New Form of Resistance training Could Help Those with Arthritis

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found that restricting the flow of blood through the muscles moderately and temporarily in combination with low-level resistance exercise training can encourage muscle-mass increases in older men.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have found that restricting the flow of blood through the muscles moderately and temporarily in combination with low-level resistance exercise training can encourage muscle-mass increases in older men.

While it has been known that resistance exercise training can be an effective form of fighting age-related muscle loss, those suffering with diseases like arthritis have a hard time doing so.

Journal of Applied Physiology

According to the research team, which published their results in the , the new approach may be a novel treatment for older people to increase their muscle mass. Besides those with diseases that may prevent them from heavy lifting, the team suggests that those recovering from surgery that may be unable to lift may benefit from this activity as well.

The study focused on examining changes in the thigh muscles of seven men, average age 70, as they performed four minutes of low-resistance leg extension exercises with and without inflatable cuffs. The cuffs helped reduce blood flow from the muscles. The group measured muscle protein synthesis in each of the subjects by monitoring a chemical tracer infused in the bloodstream. They used the data retrieved from the measurement to track alterations in biochemical pathways critical to muscle growth.

Researchers found that when the men used the cuffs, their bodies responded similarly to young people performing traditional high-intensity resistance exercise. The low-intensity exercise seemed to produce increases in protein synthesis, and activated two cellular pathways that stimulate protein synthesis and muscle growth in the post-exercise period.

The team is unaware why the effect is produced, but speculates one of two possibilities could be responsible: an improved ability to activate type II muscle fibers or a response to the surge of blood into the muscles when the cuffs are released could be responsible.