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Like Your Mother, Muscles Remember Everything (and a giveaway inside!)

Posted Aug 24 2010 1:33pm
The only thing this Yogi the Bear and I have in common is our love of “piiiic-i-nic baskets.” (God knows I’m not “smaaaaarter than the aaaaaaverage bear.”)
Yeah…I’m more like this Yogi the bear Post PT and pre-Advil this morning, I was feeling pretty darn sore in my knees and quads. That’s not unusual for a PT day. But this pain and fatigue was different because today I did…

…drum roll…

10 minutes on the elliptical!

I mostly stayed on levels 1 and 2, although I did do a 2-minute burst at level 6.

It felt like an hour.

Oh how quickly my muscles forgot,’ I thought as I huffed and sweated through the last agonizing minute.

Or did they? It seems that muscles might not forget, or at least they don’t forget for very long.

NPR’s "All Things Considered" reported Sunday on a study that suggests muscle memory may last...

get this…

FOREVER.

No More Gym? Don’t Worry, Your Muscles Remember ”: Muscles actually have a memory of their former strength — and that memory may last indefinitely, University of Oslo physiologist Kristian Gundersen tells NPR's Audie Cornish. Gundersen's team just released a study that has good news for those of us who used to be fit.


The study challenges the idea that muscles go back to their starting condition when you stop strength training.“Our findings suggest that there are permanent structural changes in the muscle," says Gundersen. "We don't know if they're really permanent, but they're very long-lasting in animals, at least."


The researchers put mice through strength training on their hind legs. Building muscle generates new muscle nuclei, which Gundersen calls the "small factories that will produce new muscle." Then the researchers took the mice off their training regimen. Gundersen observed their nuclei directly with specialized microcameras, and found that although the mice lost muscle mass, they still maintained the muscle nuclei. Those nuclei give the muscle a head start when training resumes.

I’ve been slowly resuming my strength training regimen since surgery 9 weeks ago. My arms are doing pretty well. It only took them a few weeks to get comfortable with the old routine again. Same with my calves. I’m back to holding a 15-pound weight when I do calf lifts on the step. My abs are resisting a little, but those exercises are a little harder to do given the limitations I still have with my knee.

It’s the large muscles – my quads and hamstrings – that are complaining the most. But getting them back in full working order is the most important thing I can do for my arthritic knees. (See “ Strong Quadriceps Protect Women’s Knees from Pain ”)

I’m a HUGE proponent of strength training, particularly for women. It’s not enough that we sweat our way through hours of walking, running, ellipticals, stair-steppers, biking, whatever your cardio of choice is. We also need to engage in resistance training. Nothing big. Twenty minutes 2-3 times a week will suffice. The best part is that you don’t need the go to a gym! I don’t. I do it in my home with some hand weights, Thera-Band, a couple of weighted balls, an exercise ball and my own body weight (push-ups, anyone?)
This article is a good place to start if you’re not sure how or why to begin: “ Strength Training For Women ” (From the Women’s Heart Foundation).

To celebrate the memory of muscles, I’m giving away a used copy (Not my copy. I could never part with it.) of my very favorite strength training book, “The Body Sculpting Bible for Women: Featuring the 14-Day Body Sculpting Workout” by Hugo A. Rivera, James C. Villepigue and James Villepigue.

Leave a comment, or if you prefer or cannot leave a comment because of Blogger’s “technical” difficulties with Firefox and Safari (grrr….), send an email to lynnbering@verizon.net to throw your name in the hat. I’ll draw a winner this Saturday (Aug. 28).

Now go pick up a couple of soup cans and work those biceps!
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