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.
Ok so this is something I knew but REALLY, REALLY, REALLY learned first hand in the last few years. An eccentric contraction is when the muscle is used to go down a hill, step, or lower something. Eccentric contractions are harder, no matter what they’re harder. They’re harder if you haven’t had a brain injury or a knee replacement, they’re just harder. Every single patient that I ever saw had more trouble with eccentric contractions. It’s significantly harder for me to go down a hill than up a hill. And I live in Pittsburgh – there are a lot of hills here. And I have a dog so I have to walk on those hills everyday multiple times a day. If you really work on that motion, you’ll automatically gain more control over the concentric contraction. A concentric contraction is the opposite – it’s when going up a hill or staircase, or lifting something. An isometric contraction is when you contract the muscle but there is no movement. So push against a wall really hard, nothing moves – that’s an isometric contraction. To start out strengthening a really weak muscle, use isometric contractions. Then move to concentric, then do eccentric contractions like crazy.