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Strength Training for Pain & Injury Rehab

Why building muscle is easier, better, and more important than you thought, and its role in recovering from injuries and chronic pain

Paul Ingraham • 40m read

Exercise is the closest thing there is to a miracle drug,12 and strength training is one of the best kinds of exercise. It’s practically like magic! It’s healthier and more efficient than most people know, and a valuable component of fitness and injury rehabilitation for a wide range of people — not just for gym lovers, and not only for the reasons most patients and professionals think about.

B&W photo of a pair of small dumbells on a gritty metallic surface.

Strength training includes the gym-o-centric, oomphy style of exercise that mostly guys like to do — bodybuilding, pumping iron, powerlifting. But nearly everyone else ignores strength training, except during occasional New Year’s resolution phases, or when prescribed and/or supervised by a physical therapist.

Please don’t dismiss it! In this article, I will spell out why building strength truly matters to almost everyone, and “how” to do it — which is easy, because technique is amazingly unimportant. Simply wearing muscles out by any means is usually good enough for the average person or even the average athlete.

While I hope anyone who’s ever spent time in a gym will find this guide helpful, it’s especially written for people with chronic pain and stubborn injuries who are wondering: Where does strength training fit in to a recovery plan? While it does have a vital role in rehab, it’s not a “treatment”: weakness is rarely the reason people are injured or in pain to begin with, and strengthening is rarely an effective prevention or treatment for injury. But it is a crucial part of load management — an ideal way of taking baby steps back to normal function and then beyond into better-than-ever territory.

Exercise is Power: Resistance Training for Older Adults  11:51

The best (and least advertised) benefits of strength training

Over the years, I have come to love strength training for fitness and rehabilitation, but not for entirely conventional reasons, many of which are problematic. Fortunately, there are some other great reasons to challenge your muscles regularly:


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