Isokinetics are a type of exercise often performed in physical therapy offices. The premise behind isokinetics is that it allows for steady, accommodating resistance throughout the range of motion during exercises. Because the resistance is controlled through the entire movement, there is a reduced risk of injury. The drawback of isokinetics is that they often require expensive equipment and a professional trainer or therapist to assist. However, there are also many benefits.
Isokinetic exercises and tests are often performed to determine the effectiveness of rehabilitation exercises for those in physical therapy. Many of the studies on the accuracy of isokinetic strength measurements were conducted in the 1980s, when a new type of dynanometer, a device used to measure isokinetic strength, hit the market. One such study in "Athletic Training" affirmed that the dynanometer was an accurate way to measure muscular strength and power changes in patients.
What makes isokinetic exercises so distinctive is their ability to provide accommodating resistance. Isokinetic machines are set at a fixed speed, not a fixed resistance. This means when a patient performs a movement, they work at a preset speed, and the machine responds to their strength or weakness by adjusting the amount of resistance throughout the range of motion to maintain that speed. The speed settings can range from one degree to 1000 degrees per second. Muscles are dynamically loaded throughout the full movement of an exercise, which is very different from traditional resistance exercises.
Because isokinetic dynanometers make it possible to load muscles dynamically, isokinetic exercises are a safe alternative to resistance training in patients with muscle or other soft tissue injuries. The accommodating resistance makes it difficult for patients to push themselves any harder than their therapist prescribes.
Always consult a doctor before beginning an exercise regimen. If you are dealing with an injury, do not try to perform any exercises without talking with your physical therapist. Isokinetics can provide beneficial therapy for those with injuries but should only be performed under the guidance of a qualified professional.
- Isokinetics: Muscle Testing, Interpretation, and Clinical Applications; Zeevi Dvir
- Isokinetic Exercise and Assessment; David H. Perrin
- Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images