Armed and Ready

Person showing the right arm biceps

Gym rats? Prepare to be dis-ARM-ed!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Accidents happen – even to those who regularly work out. A slip of the weight and – yowch! How can I keep my injured arm from losing all those muscle gains?

Meet Omar Valdes from the Universidad Finis Terrae and colleagues wondered – could the OTHER arm lend a hand?

Thirty healthy volunteers wore an arm sling eight hours a day for a month. Some did NO exercise with their FREE arm. Some did arm curls with their free hand while holding weights for the whole movement. The rest did arm curls but ONLY held a weight while straightening their arm out.

The researchers tracked arm circumferences and maximum weight lifted.

Results? Doing full curls helped maintain strength in the immobilized arm. But, the THIRD exercise — weighted arm extensions — made the immobilized arm stronger! Meanwhile, the group that rested lost around fourteen percent of their strength!

Exercising the HEALTHY arm kept the injured arm swole…in a good way.

So if you’re injured… Let your OTHER arm give you a leg up!

Valdes, O., Ramires, C., Perez, F., Garcia-Vincencia, S., Nosaka, K., & Penailillo, L. (2020). Contralateral effects of eccentric resistance training on immobilized arm.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports n/a, no. n/a..