Isometric Muscle Contraction
What is an isometric contraction and why is it important?
An isometric contraction occurs when a muscle is activated but the muscle length does not change and there is no movement at the joints in which the muscle crosses. The force of the muscle is matching an external force (ex. barbell or dumbbell). An example of an isometric contraction is pushing against a wall. Your muscles are activated because they are exerting a force, however, the wall, your muscles, and your joints are not moving. Another example is holding a muscle in a flexed position.
Let’s breakdown the unique characteristics of an isometric contraction and when it should be used in training, prehab, and rehab:
- Decreases blood pressure after contraction
- Great alternative for athletes with high blood pressure
- Decreases pressure on joints, tendons, and ligaments
- Athletes can still strengthen muscles with less of an impact on their bodies especially early in rehab from injury or surgery
- Decreased pain with contraction in injured athletes
- Another reason to use them early in rehab from injury or surgery
- Muscle doesn’t completely contract
- Muscle can be strengthen but not optimally. Thus, they can be used as a supplemental exercises in a traditional training program but they can’t fully replace concentric or eccentric exercises
Check out our rehab, prehab, and training pages to see when it is best to use isometric contractions!