Isometric Exercise

Ball exercisesIsometric exercise is static exercise that is performed without producing joint motion because the muscle being exercised contracts but does not shorten. Isometric exercise is resistance against an immovable force. There is no movement in the joint and no change in muscle length during the muscular contraction.  The advantage of isometric exercise in musculoskeletal pain lies in the opportunity to exercise local muscle without aggravating the joint. An injured, immobilized or arthritic extremity can be isometric exercised to minimize pain and prevent atrophy. Isometrics are used during immobilization and when the patient's subjective pain levels are high and range of motion is decreased. Early intervention with isometric exercise is possible due to the fact that the joints are not stressed by moving and are stabilized by muscle strengthening. The procedure followed for isometric exercise is called:

“The Rule of Tens"

  1. 10 second contraction
  2. 10 second rest
  3. 10 repetitions
  4. 10 different positions
  5. 10 times daily

Isometrics require exercise at various angles through the range of motion because of the limited physiologic overflow. If we apply the isometric exercise at one point there is approximately ten degrees of overflow on each side. By performing the exercise in 10 different positions, strength is increased throughout the range of motion. Remember to cue the patient for proper position and alignment, muscle group contraction and breathing.

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