Effectiveness of resistance training in musculoskeletal rehabilitation

A systematic review has been published in a recent edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine underlining the importance and wide range of application of resistance training (RT) in musculoskeletal rehabilitation. The focus of this study was on the effect of resistance training in the injured population and to investigate guidelines for optimal recovery. The objective of this review was to summarise the effects of RT in a rehab context with regards to its effects on strength, function, pain relief and quality of life in common musculoskeletal conditions. These conditions, chronic low back pain, chronic tendinopathy, knee osteoarthritis, post ACL reconstruction and post hip replacement were included as RT is commonly prescribed in their management. 42 randomised control trials and 9 observational studies containing data from 1545 patients were included in this review. Inclusion criteria consisted of the intervention lasting for longer than 4 weeks and more than one outcome measure being evaluated in the study.

While the authors concluded that RT was effective in musculoskeletal rehabilitation, particularly when a loss of strength and function is involved, this effectiveness was more evident in chronic conditions as opposed to post-surgical rehab. High intensity RT is stated as more effective than low-intensity. Also, the importance of gradually progressing patients to heavier loads through periodised RT is underlined as a method of preventing injury reoccurrence. Furthermore, the authors express the need for future research in the area of optimal RT musculoskeletal rehabilitation protocols but state that principles of RT programme for healthy subjects can also be applied to this patient population. This study underlines the importance of RT in a rehabilitation programme in a wide range of common musculoskeletal conditions and establishes clinically applicable parameters for each of these conditions.

Kristensen J, Franklyn-Miller J (2012) Resistance training in musculoskeletal rehabilitation: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine;46:10 719-726