Strength Training

When I started writing this blog, I wrote with an I don’t give a crap attitude.  I didn’t worry about hurting feelings – my feelings have been hurt A LOT.  I didn’t worry about offending anyone – I have been offended A LOT.  I just didn’t care.  Now I care.  I think my I don’t care attitude is part of what made this blog so popular.  I don’t know, maybe that has nothing to do with it but whatever I did at the start of this blog I want to keep doing.  On my last post, someone commented about strength training and I agreed that it’s super good for you and then I said that I was being hypocritical because I rarely strength train.  For the first time since I started writing this blog I thought later, “well maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”  That’s not not caring!  I think lots of people out there look up to me and take what I say very seriously.  I know this for a fact.  So for that reason I want to explain that comment a little bit.  I don’t weight train.  I’m human.  A lot of humans don’t do what they should be doing.  But in terms of stroke recovery – loss of strength is not an issue for me and never really was.  Strength training is not vital to my recovery.  Not to say that it wouldn’t help, it sure would but I’m doing ok with just the occasional session of weight training.  My issues involve control and coordination, not strength.  My issues were never about strength from day 1.  That’s why I don’t do strength training.  Practicing writing – I do that a lot.  Practicing eating and drinking with my right hand – I do that a lot.  Practicing pressing buttons on the remote control with my right hand – I do that a lot.  I do what I need to do.  I don’t need to weight train.  If poor strength was an issue for me you better believe I’d get a Total gym and do it everyday.

Categories: Health, Recovery, Rehab, Stroke stuff

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41 replies

  1. And we love you just the way you are.

  2. Pretty much the only workouts I do are strength training. I go to a trainer once a week and we do mostly strength training exercises. I need to do cardio, but I hardly have time to work out and I am lazy when I do. :-/ I love running when I am in shape but I hate it when I’m not. I am definitely NOT in shape right now. But, the strength training I do once a week is very mentally therapeutic. It’s good for me in many ways. I think working out in general is.

    You are a wonderful lady, I am honored to call you my cyber friend. One day we’ll have to take the “cyber” part out of the equation.

  3. I do a fair bit of second guessing myself with blogging trying to figure out where my “fine line” is. I think you have probably cared deeply all along … or you would not have been hitting the publish button and sharing with the rest of the world. I believe it is your frank, honest, intelligent and opinionated approach that makes your blog interesting to read. Your ability to start discussions and get others to share their opinions is amazing. bravo.

    I am currently rethinking what I need to do for exercise. I have just started with physio after a long break and am sorting out what I need to work on. Going back to school fulltime and changing my daily activities is affecting how I am seeing what I need to do next in exercise. Like you my overall strength is not my biggest issue, balance is, and probably cardio but there is a huge strength difference from my right to my left that seems to get me trouble on a regular basis.

    • I’ve pushed the boundaries a lot on this blog. But now I feel like I have a responsibility that I didn’t have before so now I hold back a little bit. Does going to school full time completely wipe you out?

      • oh I am soooooo exhausted. The goal was to eventually get a part time job but the government is paying if I go to school full time!
        Walking around the college is exhausting. socially it is kind of challenging. Trying to pay attention and remember and learn is exhausting and then there is sitting in class for 6 to 8 hours of lectures. Add in group projects, and homework. I come home and crash instead of doing homework.

  4. Don;t forget typing and mouse clicking. 🙂 Building strength in the unaffected side is more important when paralysis is present for balance and to help carry the load of the paralyzed side.

    • Typing, I REALLY need to type more. Full discloure : I don’t use my right hand at all when I type. I type one-handed.

    • How about mouse-clicking? I have a really difficult time using my affected hand to mouse-click. My index finger wants to work exactly like my middle finger does so I just use my left side (unaffected) to mouse click. My husband had to change around my computer set-up so that it’s on the left side now. I’m okay with typing – I always start out two-handed, hoping that it will get better with repetitions.

      I definitely need to practice writing more – today’s technology is not helping with that! Did you know that a lot of schools do not teach cursive writing anymore? I think that the only time I’ve used cursive is with my signature. It’s one of those situations where you have to consider – do I do this enough in reality to practice it – like weight training for you.

      I do weight train and the significance of that has been important on my affected side. My right side is definitely weaker now and it needs weight training to keep it strong. The right side used to be the stronger side. Not anymore, as much as I think I try to do with my right side, I am in my early 40’s, and it is not enough. I have to weight train to keep it strong. Just keep it in mind, you may need to start weight training more often as you get older!


  5. You are refreshingly human and you are knowledgable without being preachy. Love the FU attitude.No one expects you to be perfect. Strength has been a problem for me all along. I had a lot of atrophy because I couldn’t move at all for a while. Even my good side was shot. So I train strength a lot. Not with weights though. Piilates is to Julia as KY is to Amy. It’s great for strength but also balance and coordination. I’m trying to speed up my walking so I can get cardio too. And, of course, stretching. I stretch because it’s good for me, but mainly because it feels so damn good. I wish I knew what to do with my hand. No hand Pilates unfortunately although my weak hand can now grip a theraband.

  6. Yes, I look up to you and appreciate your blog, primarily because it, and the conversation it generates, help me. You and your cyber-buddies have accumulated knowledge AND wisdom. Until I started reading your blog, I had no idea what I was being left out of. Now I do, and I wouldn’t miss it. Never stop – you are doing it perfectly.

    BRW, I did weight-traing at the Y in my 2nd year, but Gave up my membership when I joined the pool for aquatic PT; I want to start weight-training again, but at home. Anyone have suggestions?

    You’re the best!

    • Thanks Barb! You know you might want to try therabands like Julia does. They’re cheap and you can tie them onto doorknobs and stuff. I used to send people home with therabands everyday. I’ll email you some stuff.

      • Thanks Amy. I have lots of therabands from my former OT -PT’s. all the weak ones probably. I’m not home now, but for sure yellow and red ones, maybe blue. I can remember only 2 exercisesthough; I’ll look online.

  7. Hey Barb, not at home, huh? Where are you, then? I don’t remember you telling us you were going anywhere. Just kidding, I’m not a cyber stalker. Anyway I bought some cheap hand weights when I first came home from rehab. Started with a 3 lb., moved up to a 5 lb., now use a 10 lb. I’m able to do the same exercises on the left as I do on the right, but I’m able to hold the weight with my affected hand, I know most are not able to do that. Unless you used a Velcro strap of some sort. The bands are probably a better idea.

    • I used the Reebok Velcro weights at the beginning, and for a long time. You can add or remove weights in the pockets as u get better or tired. I wore them on my affected side all the time, until I didn’t need them anymore. My pts gave me the bands too. I thought they were harder to use than the weights, but I was crazy doing all the exercises nonstop anyway.

    • Yes Barb WHERE ARE YOU???? You didn’t tell us where you were going!!!!!!

    • I’m at my sister’s in Philly for a niece’s baby shower. I hate being away from home every weekend, but we’ll be home next 2 weekends, then about 20 family members descend for Thanlsgiving!

  8. I’m going to look for some hand weights on amazon. I tried wrist weights but my wrists are so narrow that they fell off. I’ve always had bird bones, even pre-stroke.

  9. Amy – Please don’t feel you have to change anything! What I appreciate about your posts IS your attitude. I have always been a “don’t rock the boat” type person, and I really have a hard time saying what I want to say EXACTLY how I am thinking it, without worrying I will offend someone.

    So please keep the attitude, or PISS OFF, LOL!!! Hey that does feel good 🙂

  10. Stroke can affect you in many different ways, in trying to practice rehab some forms of strength is needed. When I first started on my road to recovery I found I just didn’t have the strength anymore, so I decided to retrain my strength. Walking on a treadmill won’t increase strength. Simple leg squats will. To pull and push requires strength, to ‘swim’ requires strength, Pilates requires strength, any physical movement and pressure requires strength,why not captilise and work on increasing strength. Not to be confused with ‘body building’. With strength training , breath control, flexibility, core, balance and many more are learnt. There is quite a lot not known about practising true strength training. Strength Training is something of great value for the mind and body.

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    • I agree. Strength training is derided by PTs and OTs alike as “therex” (therapeutic exercise) as “functional activity” is all the rage. But there can’t be any functional activity without strength, and, frankly, strength training is much more straightforward than all that functional crap. I am walking because a PT with vision put me on a leg press one day and helped me pump iron, and because a Pilates instructor with vision used her own body as a reformer to get my muscles online again and brought back my core. I only wish I could find an OT with that kind of vision. If anyone has any ideas I’d really like to hear them. If anyone in the Northeast has an OT who really helped them get hand function back, I’ll travel to meet with that OT, even outside of the northeast if need be. No compensation garbage though, just real recovery.

    • Strength training would not help my issues whatsoever. Different issues because of different areas of the brain being affected require very individual things.

    • And also, there’s a huge difference between strength training and getting someone stronger. Putting someone on a leg press to get them stronger is an incredibly standard thing for a PT to do, I did that everyday for 4 years. That PT wasn’t being visionary, I assure you. Insurances are very limiting in what PTs can do. There isn’t time in a session for true “strength training.” You need to go to gym on your own time and do that, maybe get a personal trainer. A PT should tell you to do this, absolutely.

      • Actually you don’t have to go to a gym, you can do tons of stuff at home.

      • Actually compared to what I had from other PTs, it was visionary. Everyone else told me I had too little function to do strength training which of course was a self-fulfilling prophecy. She was the only one to see past that. It was 5 minutes and it made a huge difference. Something reconnected for me on that leg press. My subacute phase was totally wasted by PTs who had to get me to “walk” because that’s what insurance wanted. I couldn’t “walk” because I had no strength in my leg.

  11. Amy, you’re right. Maybe it felt like visionary to me because the PTs I worked with as an inpatient were a total waste of time and money. They were working for my insurance company, not for me, and our goals were not aligned. Now my PT works only for me and our goals are totally aligned. Marcelle has a recent post on this. How many of us have had our time and money wasted because we’ve had to meet institutional reimbursement goals, not clinical or personal ones. The PTs I’ve worked with prior to my stroke have been amazing. Both my daughter and I have been rehabbed from dance injuries, and I have enormous respect for the PTs I’ve known. The goal was always to get us up and walking and dancing again, pain-free. I’ve always felt that PT was life-changing. But my recent experience has been exactly the opposite, until I started with Estelle. Maybe I just had bad luck as an inpatient, but somehow I don’t think so.

    • No I don’t think so either. Most of my inpatient therapy was not good. Inpatient therapy needs to change. I’m not sure how but something needs to change. I just realized the impact I could have……………….K here comes a blog post………………

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