Could Wearing a Face Mask Be a COVID-19 Game Changer?

— Augmenting protection during a global pandemic

A young man and woman wearing masks sit on a wall while social distancing

While it may not be evidence-based in the rigid scientific sense, wearing a basic face mask in the community setting to augment our protection against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is biologically plausible, and potentially impactful.

The basic or standard surgical mask, also referred to as a fluid-resistant surgical mask, is designed to serve as a “barrier to splashes and droplets impacting on the wearer’s nose, mouth and respiratory tract.” Recommendations from authorities discouraging the use of a face mask by the general public may have been optimal earlier, when there was generally no or low community spread of the virus in the U.S., and given the critical shortage of face masks for use in the healthcare setting.

But those recommendations may be changing now that there is exponential community spread of the virus in the U.S., the current epicenter of the pandemic, particularly New York City, not to mention, we now know that the virus is highly contagious and virulent with potential asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread.

Moreover, with the increasing threat posed by this virus, the public is more likely to comply with wearing a face mask than the other non-pharmaceutical interventions, particularly social distancing and staying at home. Wearing a face mask appropriately could prove a more cost-effective risk-reduction strategy, and in view of the critical shortage, a homemade mask made from common household materials could be an acceptable substitute.

In one study, homemade cotton face masks, while not as effective as the disposable surgical mask, “significantly reduced the number of microorganisms expelled by volunteers” with influenza. The study concluded that “a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection.”

George Gao, director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently noted that: “The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks.” Notably, China was the initial epicenter of this pandemic, but the spread is now under control and rapidly abating. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted directly between people through respiratory droplets, and indirectly from contaminated surfaces, and objects (also known as fomites). Specifically, droplet transmission occurs when a person is within about three feet from someone who has respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and sneezing. Hence the social distancing guideline of six feet of separation from others is considered sound as a protective measure, but compliance remains a major challenge.

In addition, a recent controlled laboratory study reported that aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is plausible “since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours,” suggesting that “people may acquire the virus through the air”. Aerosols result from the evaporation of droplets, and are therefore much smaller and contain the virus. These aerosols “may remain in the air for long periods of time” and be transmitted to others over distances greater than one meter or approximately three feet. Indeed, “coughing and sneezing can generate aerosol particles as well as droplets.”

While COVID-19 is not currently classified as an airborne disease, airborne transmission of the virus may be possible when certain medical procedures are performed. Amidst this evolving historic public health crisis, let’s not forget the scientific value of good logic and reasonable inference, as we seek to reduce the risk of infection to the general public.

Rossi A. Hassad, PhD, MPH, is an epidemiologist and professor at Mercy College, in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He is a member of the American College of Epidemiology and a fellow and chartered statistician of Britain’s Royal Statistical Society.

Source: Medpage Today 

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Is life in the 21st century giving you a headache?

headaches in the 21st century

Headaches during work, or keeping you awake at night, robbing you of rest and relaxation can be real frustrations. If on top of a stressful or tiring day you can’t get to sleep, you can feel like a limp rag the next day. Not only does it impact on you, but also your immediate family and friends.

Of course, an occasional headache is no big deal. But frequent bad headaches and migraines with any symptom to do with your nerves or muscles or movement warrant a thorough checkup from a physiotherapist.

Accurate diagnosis is important to guide the correct treatment and management of headache disorders. Head pain can have many causes, not just a migraine. Correctly identifying the cause will lead to better treatment.

Most headaches aren’t deadly but they can be very difficult to work around. They are commonly caused by irritation of the nerves or muscles around the brain and head.

If your headaches are due to emotional tension, learn to identify people or situations which are stressing your health. Just reviewing your life can help you take control and calm your mind. You may need to make lifestyle changes.

Headaches that are caused by disorders of the neck or physical tension can be successfully treated with physiotherapy.

Does the pain radiate from the back to the front of your head?

Do you feel dizzy or light-headed?

Is your headache brought on or worsened by neck movement or staying in the same position for a long time?

Is your headache eased by pressure to the base of your skull? If so, give us a call on (480) 335 2747 and make an appointment. Our physiotherapists can identify the cause of your headaches and lay out an effective treatment plan.


Laugh your way to better health!

Laughter makes the world go around! But if it’s yourself you’re laughing at, be prepared for the world to join you.

More seriously, laughing has been proven to be a marker of several important life markers, including:

  • A longer life with less chance of fatal heart disease, dementia, high blood sugar or pressure, and cancer.
  • A happy social network.
  • Higher ability to bear pain or distraction from pain – sick people reported that watching a comedy or laughing heartily at funny jokes worked much better at deflecting pain than painkillers.
  • Stress relief and a healthier heart rate, blood pressure and blood vessel tone.

So laugh as often and as heartily as you can. You’ll enjoy life and health all the better for it!


Quick tip

Try having one evening per week where you resolve not to turn the television on. Go for a walk, read a book or go meet friends instead. Chances are you won’t really miss your TV that much. If you’re game, also ditch your smartphone, laptop or tablet during your personal time.



I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat.

~ Michael Jordan


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The lazy person’s way to fitness

We’ve all been there: Often we’re busy, but sometimes we’re just plain lazy. In this post we look at how you can get exercise and make fitness a part of your life, even with Netflix calling.

Please share this post with a family member or friend who may find it interesting. We hope this information helps you or someone you know to achieve and maintain the best health potential.


The mantra today is fitness. But does that mean heavy weight lifting and endless crunches? What if you happen to be the kind of person who turns pale at the very word “gym”? Is a workout indispensable for fitness?

Fortunately, no. Witness the generations past who preserved a slim figure, had lasting muscle and stamina, lived healthy to past 90 and remained active till their last days – before gyms were invented!

Many studies show that fifty-somethings who were fit had a significantly reduced risk of various diseases which leave most sufferers crippled after 65, including stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, heart and kidney disease, and various cancers. Those guys are on to something!

Start with a good diet

There are countless articles online about what makes a good diet, but it’s really simple. Eat fresh, balanced and in moderation. Avoid processed foods. If it comes packaged off a production line, chances are it is processed.

Drink enough water. It goes without saying.

Start moving more

If you’re too lazy to work out, start by getting more movement into your day. Our ancestors hardly sat around! Washing your windows or merely wiping them sparkling clean, vacuuming your carpet and under the sofa, shopping and bringing in your groceries, decluttering your cabinet, scrubbing down your bathroom walls and tub, raking your yard, mowing your lawn, cleaning your kitchen sink and counters, rough-housing with your kids, planting a few new flowers – just move more. It will all add up.

If you like your TV, simply make it a rule to walk around the room during the ads. Get off the elevator early and take the stairs for last 2 floors. Park your car a block away. Walk your children to and from school… See what works for you and build on it; it doesn’t need to be a daunting exercise regimen!

But when you are ready for more structured exercise, start a few basic exercises at a time. Later you can work up to a low-medium intensity exercise at 15-minutes three times a week. Regularity is important. Speak with us at Vick Physiotherapy International to organize an exercise plan to suit your needs.

So take heart and start moving without “exercise”. Watch what you eat, how much you eat, when and why you sit and take tiny steps to build active habits. Before you grow tired of it you’ll be on the lazy person’s road to fitness!


Health benefits of swimming

Swimming is one of the most all-round physical activities you will find. Swimming can be either an aerobic or anaerobic exercise depending on a variety of factors. Your fitness, the intensity of your workout and the duration of your swim can affect whether your body utilizes oxygen, which is the main difference. Aerobic and anaerobic workouts have their perks, but understanding each and the correct way to utilize them will benefit your fitness.

Water’s density produces a floating effect that decreases the load on your joints. Your body weight reduces by about half when you’re waist-deep in water. This makes exercise easier for people with joint problems.

Swimming lengthens your body and drives your arms and legs through greater range of motion, increasing your flexibility. Interval training through swimming is a wonderful way to gain uniform muscle strength and tone up your whole body.

Due to the increased water resistance, every arm and leg stroke takes more energy. You could burn serious calories and awaken the muscles you never knew you had.

Swimming can also help asthma sufferers, since it teaches you how to breathe properly, as well as increasing your lung volume.

Of course, like any exercise, swimming increases the efficiency of your heart function and releases numerous brain chemicals which elevate your moods.

So why wait? Let’s get into the pool!


Quick tip

Make sure you stretch daily. Stretching relieves tension from your muscles, improves circulation, increases flexibility, improves balance, and more.


Self-delusion is pulling in your stomach when you step on the scales.

~ Paul Sweeney

Funny thought of the day

The alphabet was the very first thing put in alphabetical order.

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5 TEDTalks to Inspire Rehab Therapists

As an avid watcher of TEDTalks, I have selected 5 of the most inspiring lectures about physical rehabilitation and therapy. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, and that can provide some insight and knowledge for you to improve and refine your practice!

1. How to Have a Good Conversation – Celeste Headlee

If you knew exactly what your patients were thinking, I’m guessing it’d make your job as a therapist a whole lot easier. After all, a patient’s thoughts and perceptions can have a huge impact on his or her therapy success. But unless you have telepathic abilities, that’s much easier said than done. However, you can learn a lot about a person just by taking the time to listen—I mean, really listen—to what he or she is saying.

Being a good listener is the cornerstone of building rapport with anyone. Unfortunately, worrying about the good-listener qualities we’re taught (e.g., making eye contact, repeating back what you heard, etc.) can sometimes distract us from actually listening. (Talk about a contradiction!) This is the argument journalist Celeste Headlee makes, anyway. Fortunately, she also provides us with great advice on how to be a better conversationalist based on what she’s learned through her years of work in public radio.

2. The Physical Activity Paradox – Arto Pesola

It’s no surprise that way too many people spend the vast majority of their day sitting down. As experts in physiology, PTs are well aware of the detriments of physical inactivity. In this TEDx Talk, author and exercise physiology researcher Arto Pesola discusses the way modern culture praises health and fitness while simultaneously discouraging folks from improving their health in whatever way they can—and how we can combat that way of thinking.

3. A Doctor’s Touch – Abraham Verghese

Physical therapists have the benefit of being a very physical discipline. As an often hands-on care type, physical therapy is at an advantage over other disciplines that require less physical contact. However, technology—while enabling providers to deliver a higher level of care—can often shift the focus off of the patient and onto data points on a screen, and PTs aren’t immune to this trend. In this TEDTalk, Dr. Abraham Verghese shares his experience with retaining a more physical element to examination and discusses the impact it has on his patients.

4. A Portrait of the Patient Experience – Ted Meyer

At a young age, Ted Meyer was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease, which inspired his artistic motivations. Now, he communicates the patient experience of pain, frustration, and adversity through his art and advocates for people who have undergone physical trauma.

5. Health Care Should Be a Team Sport – Eric Dishman

Collaborative care networks aren’t a unique concept. In fact, we’ve talked quite a bit about the importance of establishing connected care teams. And it’s not just a matter of convenience—it’s a matter of safety. As medical tech specialist Eric Dishman explains during this TEDTalk, 80% of medical errors are caused by miscommunication and a lack of coordination among healthcare providers. Dishman also uses his own experience as a patient as a basis for his ideas on how to better connect providers across disciplines.

Feeling inspired? I hope so! If you feel like sharing your thoughts or have some favorite TEDTalks of your own, drop a line in the comment section below.


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Is your computer a sitting death trap?

Even though you may be using it to earn a living, with the long hours of sitting, repetitive movements, poor posture and a badly set up workstation, your computer might well be your death warrant! You could find, too late, that you have damaged the nerves and muscles in your fingers, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and neck – causing stiffness and pain. You may gain weight, develop carpal tunnel syndrome and chronic back pain. Your eyes could be dry and red as you blink less and strain to make out the screen or see in uneven lighting. As your circulation slows, your blood vessels can get clogged. So pay attention early to any pain, tingling, weakness of grip or numbness in your upper limbs if you use a computer a lot.

your computer is a death trap

So if you’ll be using the computer for more than a couple of hours at a time, set it up right!

Your worktable needs to be at elbow height; ensure you have space for all the materials you will need now, and leg room.

Place the monitor at arm’s length. When you sit upright or at a very slight slant backward, its center should be just a little below straight eye level. Prevent glare by turning it at suitable angles any bright light, or curtaining a window.

Set the height of your chair so you can sit with shoulders hanging loose but reach the keyboard with wrists straight. Don’t clutch the mouse either. Let your hands float over keyboard and mouse when you’re using them. Keep elbows bent at above 90 degrees to allow free circulation. Flexing the wrist too much over the mouse causes a stiff painful wrist “mouse arm” or “carpal tunnel syndrome” – due to wrist tendons becoming swollen and compressing the nerves, in a narrow wrist space bound by ligaments and bones.

Adjust your chair’s backrest to support your lower spine. If you can’t reach the ground easily, use a footrest. Armrests are out.

Sit up! Slouching tightens up your chest muscles and rounds your back. The shoulder muscles at the back weaken. This imbalance gives you a hunch – and also a headache, and pain in the neck, shoulder or back.

Change hip and foot position every now and then. This ensures you don’t tire out your muscles – called “sitting fatigue.” Quietness reduces stress and relaxes muscles. Soft classical music to mask outside noise can help.

Our physiotherapists at Vick Physiotherapy International are trained to spot these non-ergonomic workplace habits and correct them. We offer a variety of services for pain relief; more importantly, we help you prevent such issues in the future by mobilising and strengthening your joints, and correcting your posture.

Take rest and exercise breaks. Every 30 minutes, stand up, walk around, get a glass of water and do some stretches for few minutes. Shrug your shoulders; get the blood moving. Let tired muscles relax, while inactive muscles come into action. This keeps your bones and muscles healthy at a computer. The extra activity boosts overall health too.

We would love to help you work productively and without pain. Call now on +1 (480) 335 2747 to make an appointment. You’ll be amazed how much we can change your life!

Quick tip

Use breathing exercises to help tighten those stomach muscles. Breathe in air as strong as you can and tuck your stomach at the same time as much as you can. Hold it for a few seconds and then slowly let it out. Don’t let it out so fast that your belly flops out. Try to breathe like this whenever you think about it, about few dozen times a day is ideal.


If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.

~ Eubie Blake

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Ageism is the stereotyping of and discrimination against individuals or groups based on their age. Ageism can take many forms, including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory practices, or institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs.

Negative ageist attitudes are widely held across societies and not confined to one social or ethnic group. Research suggests that ageism may now be even more pervasive than sexism and racism.


This has serious consequences both for older people and society at large. It can be a major barrier to developing good policies because it steers policy options in limited directions. It may also seriously impact the quality of health and social care that older people receive.

These negative stereotypes are so pervasive that even those who outwardly express the best of intentions may have difficulty avoiding engaging in negative actions and expressions. Furthermore, negative ageist attitudes are often seen as humorous and based in some degree of fact; thus, the humour is often mistakenly assumed to counteract any negative effects on the older person. Yet ageism has been shown to cause lowered levels of self-efficacy, decreased productivity, and cardiovascular stress (50). And these stereotypes can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, reinforcing the inaction and deficits that result from their internalization.

These negative attitudes are also widely present even within the health and social-care settings where older adults are at their most vulnerable. Some of this prejudice arises from observable biological declines. This so-called objective starting point for the stereotype of older age may be distorted by awareness of disorders such as dementia, which may be mistakenly thought to reflect normal ageing.

Furthermore, because ageism is assumed to be based on these presumed physiological and psychological facts, little or no account is taken of the less obvious adaptations made by older people to minimize the effects of age-related loss, nor the positive aspects of ageing, the personal growth that can occur during this period of life and the contributions made by older people.

This socially ingrained ageism can become self-fulfilling by promoting in older people stereotypes of social isolation, physical and cognitive decline, lack of physical activity and economic burden.

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Moving beyond pain medication

A prescription painkiller could make a big difference for those suffering from acute pain. But is it absolutely necessary to put these chemicals into your body? Can they cause harm? At what point do the disadvantages outweigh the benefits?

blur bokeh bright candies

Take the case of a patient with chronic arthritis, painfully trying to maneuver through her daily activities. It’s obvious that she needs pain relief. Surely she needs medication so she can get over the pain and move more freely (??).

But consider the long-term implications of that decision. The medication can’t permanently improve the joint movement or relieve pain forever. It can’t build cartilage or muscle strength. By dulling the pain from a suffering joint, it may cause overuse or strain, worsening joint damage and pain. So begins the cycle… Eventually the pain can’t be controlled any more – she’ll have to live with its crippling effects.

But let’s imagine instead, this patient chose a healthy lifestyle packed with recovery factors. She would get outside more, breathe clean unpolluted air and soak in the early morning sunlight for an hour a day. Research shows that sunlight increases vitamin D production in the skin. Vitamin D deficiency is linked with increased risk of cancers, autoimmune inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and diabetes, not to mention heart disease.

Another potent secret weapon in the battle for renewal is exercise. Yes, just simple, controlled exercising despite the pain. Exercising reduces chronic joint pain. It lowers inflammation and lubricates the joint. It improves muscle strength and flexibility. It gives better joint function. It may take a few weeks or even months, but the effect is long-term and healthy.

Physical exercise also helps boost your immunity. An active immune system is a real gift – it helps prevent diseases, including cancer and minor viral infections which can precipitate auto-immune reactions.

Getting active reduces your stress by releasing natural “happy chemicals” like endorphins in your brain. Low stress means better recovery from injury!

Furthermore, being personally involved in your own recovery (especially with helpful physiotherapists) helps with emotional wholeness. As any psychologist would testify, happy, purposeful activity brings immense benefits such as pain relief, distraction from unhappiness and increased self-esteem. An exercise group gives you those feelings of altruism and togetherness, making it even better.

In essence, recovery from injury or chronic illness need not be based on medicine. Rather, gentle graded exercise is a powerful tool to launch you on the road to real health, especially when combined with diet and lifestyle changes.

If you’re suffering in pain, call us on (480) 335 2747. We would be glad to show you specially designed exercises for painful or injured parts of your body and suggest ways of recovery with minimal or no pain medication.


To be successful, you must dedicate yourself 100% to your training, diet and mental approach.

~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Participating in Mental, Social, and Physical Leisure Activities and Having a Rich Social Network Reduce the Incidence of Diabetes-Related Dementia in a Cohort of Swedish Older Adults (Original Research)

Authors: Anna Marseglia, Hui-Xin Wang, Debora Rizzuto, Laura Fratiglioni, Weili Xu.

Participating in Mental, Social, and Physical Leisure Activities and Having a Rich Social Network Reduce the Incidence of Diabetes-Related Dementia in a Cohort of Swedish Older Adults (Original Research)



The effect of a healthy lifestyle on diabetes-related dementia remains unknown. We examined whether an active lifestyle and rich social network may counteract the increased risk of dementia in people with diabetes.



Dementia-free older adults from the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care in Kungsholmen (n = 2,650) were followed up for 10 years. Diabetes was ascertained on the basis of medical history, medication use, medical records, or glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) ≥6.5% and prediabetes as HbA1c between 5.7 and 6.5%. Dementia was diagnosed by specialists following standard criteria. An active lifestyle was defined as a moderate to high (vs. low) level of engagement in leisure activities or a rich social network (having moderate to rich [vs. poor] social connections and support). Hazard ratios (HRs) of dementia risk were derived from Cox regression models.



There were 246 incident dementia cases during follow-up. Those with diabetes (n = 243), but not those with prediabetes (n = 921), had greater risk of dementia (adjusted HR 2.0 [95% CI 1.4–2.9]) than diabetes-free participants. Participants with diabetes but low level of engagement in leisure activities (HR 4.2 [95% CI 2.2–8.2]) or a poor social network (HR 3.4 [95% CI 1.9–6.1]) had greater dementia risk than diabetes-free participants with moderate to high levels of leisure activity engagement or a moderate to rich social network. In participants with diabetes, an active lifestyle (high level of engagement in leisure activities or a rich social network) was associated with less of a raised risk (HR 1.9 [95% CI 1.1–3.4]).



An active and socially integrated lifestyle may significantly counteract the detrimental effect of diabetes on dementia risk.

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I used to play outside as a kid… What kids these days are missing out on?

Playing outside used to be the norm. Today, children spend most of their free time in front of a screen of some sort. Generally, they go outdoors only for organised sports or activities (which are often completely driven by parent involvement).

What do they miss? Not just fresh air!

sedentary children

Experience outdoors

The outdoors is where people interact with the world around. We are all part of this earth, of sunshine, wind, rain, soil, mud, water, trees, flowers, birds and beasts. Our bodies are made up of the same physical substance that has been recycling in this earth since it was all created. We need them all for a healthy life.

It’s one thing to grow a geranium in a pot, but quite another to see wildflowers in a mud patch. No virtual app can mirror the actual feel and look of pond slime, tadpoles changing into frogs, leaves into humus – a world of growth and change!


Instead of lounging in front of a screen or hunching over a game, your kids could be running, calling, hiding, seeking, climbing, cycling, skating, learning how to negotiate obstacles both physical and mental.

Children that spend time inside are not developing coordination and dexterity due to the sedentary life style. They perform awkward movements and in many cases they are clumsy.

Social skills

Having quarrels, learning when and how to react, how to deal with bullies, how to cultivate friendship and loyalty, sharing rather than a gimme mentality, keeping your cool when things don’t go the way you expected – these are part of the right kind of social interactions that come when a bunch of kids plays outside.

Caution, not fear

They learn to stand on their own feet and yet know you’re the right distance away, in case something comes along too big for them to handle. They learn to be watchful, to know if something is not right or downright dangerous, but not timid or fearful. These are big healthy lessons for real-time living that come with good old-fashioned outdoors play.

Natural living

Playing in winter, spring, summer and autumn with all the varying conditions it brings is another immense advantage of outdoors play. Kids learn how to adjust to hot or cold, wet or dry, and become immune to ordinary dirt, bacteria and pests. Children’s growing brain becomes attuned to the circadian rhythms of their bodies, helping them wake and sleep, work and eat, in seamless harmony.

Strong bones

Skin exposed to the sunlight of outdoors becomes a chemical factory, producing vitamin D which helps strengthen bones with rich calcium. Outdoor play builds protein into muscle. This will lower future risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and osteoporosis, to name just a few.


Outdoors time also releases stress. Active outdoors play releases pent-up energy which in turn gives you a happier, more peaceful child. You may find he is more able to pay attention to his work. A happy mood and directed curiosity also results from outdoors play, which protects him from the blues as well.

So let’s make sure our children enjoy what we had. Take your kids along with the neighbourhood pack, to the park or on a hike, trail walking, a day at the lake, whatever. Your kids will grow up happier, healthier and better for it!

Call us for an appointment if your child has any issues around movement, fitness, or other physical ability – or even ideas around how to get them more active.


Quick tip

Stand up and walk around every time you make a phone call. Break up your extended sitting periods.


Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.

~ Plato

Funny thought of the day

Your alarm clock sound is pretty much a personal TV show intro music to your daily life.


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Isometric, Concentric and Eccentric muscle contractions: What’s the difference?

Muscle contraction is simply muscles doing work. So what’s with all these complicated terms?

Isometric contraction is what happens when you lift and hold a heavy weight steady. Your muscles bulge, but nothing’s moving.

Concentric contractions are movements where you exert muscle force, such as pushing a weight away from you.

Eccentric contractions are the opposite; it is when you lower / return a weight to neutral position, such as letting a weight come back down.

Think of the bench-press exercise, lying on your back: You start at the top and lower the bar; this is an eccentric contraction. Simply holding the bar steady without movement half-way down is an isometric contraction. Lifting the bar back to the top is a concentric contraction.

Now try to recognize these in your very next workout.

muscle contraction

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