July 2019

Weakness In Athletes
All too often when someone discovers or is told they have a weakness it is followed by some type of rehabilitation or strengthening exercise as a method of correction.  Unfortunately this is not always the best route of correction.  To take a step back and first assess why something may be weak will make the what to do intervention much more clear and help someone move toward resolution much faster.  Below is a list of common causes of weakness and appropriate methods of correction in athletes. 

1.  Disuse atrophy

Cause: Lack of use due to long periods of rest/inactivity/injury recovery; post-surgical

Prevalence: Common

May result in: Diminished muscle/ligament/tendon size, strength, and range of motion

Intervention: **Generalized strength training**

2.  Strength imbalance

Cause: Unbalanced strength training program; sport-acquired muscle strength imbalance

Prevalence: Very common

May result in: Muscle/strength ratio imbalances, predispose to future injuries

Intervention: **Corrective exercise intervention, sport-specific exercise intervention**

3a. Acute, repetitive overload

Cause: Excessive training volume

Prevalence: Very common

May result in: Generalized (systemic) and localized (structural) fatigue

Intervention: Rest/reduce load of training volume

3b. Chronic, repetitive overload (progression from #3a)

Cause: Excessive training volume

Prevalence: Very common

May result in: Localized soft-tissue microtrauma decreased localized circulation (hypoxia) scar tissue adhesions to soft tissues  

Intervention: Restoration of soft tissue health/functionality: Active Release Techniques, foam rolling, sports massage

4.  Protective weakness

Cause: Neurological inhibition of muscular strength as a method of self protection as increased force production may cause further damage

Prevalence: Very common

May result fromInternal joint damage/degeneration; common examples:  hip degeneration, hip labrum tear, knee degeneration

Intervention: MRI, arthrogram, X-ray, surgical consult

5.  Decreased force production

Cause: Degenerative tear

Prevalence: Very common

May result from: Partial or full-thickness degenerative tear; common examples: posterior tibial tendon, meniscus tear  

Intervention: Advanced imaging (see #4), surgical consult, orthotic support/brace

From the list above it becomes more clear of the six common reasons for weakness two respond best to strength training exercises (1 & 2), one responds best to rest (3a), one requires specialized soft-tissue treatment (3b), and two is best managed with advanced imaging, a surgical consult, and bracing (4 & 5).  To first determine why something is weak or is simply not responding to common rehabilitative strengthening exercises, have a professional examination to help determine the best intervention.  As always, an accurate assessment and diagnosis leads to a timely resolution of an issue.
Active Performance Chiropractic focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of athletic-related injuries. Treatment is a unique blend of Active Release Techniques, traditional chiropractic therapy, and physical rehabilitation designed to match each patient’s goals and lifestyle.