Paspa Physical Therapy

What Are the Benefits of Eccentric Training?

Eccentric training or eccentric exercise is when you work a muscle or a muscle group in a lengthening position under load.

For example, when you perform a biceps curl with a free weight, you bend your elbows, and the biceps muscle contracts or shortens (concentric contraction) as you move your hands towards your shoulders; then as you lower the weight back down you are still using the biceps muscle but in a lengthening or eccentric contraction. 

The eccentric contraction is when the muscle is controlling the release (or return to start position) of the exercise. During an eccentric contraction, the muscle fibers are going from a shortened position to a lengthened position.

Another simple example is when you perform a hamstring curl. The knee flexion of the movement is the concentric, or shortening, part of the contraction, and the knee extension of lowering is the eccentric part of the contraction. Eccentric contractions are harder to perform and require more muscle strength.

Eccentric contractions also act as decelerators during sports, when we change directions quickly when playing soccer or tennis, these are all eccentric contractions.

The Benefits of Eccentric Training

Eccentric training will improve:

Woman doing exercise in Manhattan, NY.
  • Muscle strength and performance – eccentric exercises are harder to perform and will improve muscle size and action.
  • Flexibility – since you are elongating the muscle when you perform eccentric strength training you will also improve the muscle length and flexibility.  That being said you must move through the entire range of motion for this benefit.
  • Lower risk of injury – our movements tend to be more eccentric than concentric, hence if we strengthen eccentrically we will be performing key functional training for activities of daily living and sports. Eccentric training will enhance recovery from injury, especially chronic conditions, and improve sports performance.

Do We Move Eccentrically in Our Daily Life?

That is a definitive – Yes! 

When we are walking down the street our foot hits the ground and the anterior tibialis (the muscle at the shin) works eccentrically to prevent the foot from slapping on the pavement, descending stairs, or squatting to pick something up from the floor is all the quadriceps working eccentrically to control the lowering movement of your body.

Your physical therapist will always strengthen eccentrically to ensure you achieve a full recovery and avoid re-injury.

In conclusion, it is important to have eccentric training in your strengthening program. You will gain improved muscle action, improved muscle development, and improved sports performance.

If you have any questions on eccentric training contact Paspa Physical Therapy here.

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