Exercise Progressions – Why they’re needed!

With my elderly patients, I exercise with them to show them the exercises and it’s not uncommon that, say, I bend and straighten my elbow HUNDREDS of times per day! Are my arm muscles stronger for it? No. Tired? Yes!

Muscle growth is achieved by two processes – the first is the load and the second is the repair. 

Firstly, the load must be of sufficient force to create microscopic tears in the existing muscle fibres, then as the repair occurs, this results in increase strength and bulk to the muscle. 

So why are progressions important in dogs and how can you do them?

If for example your dog has hip pain then that pain causes a reaction to switch off surrounding muscles so they don’t work and they atrophy. This together with mobility compensations and age related muscle loss (which occurs naturally as part of the ageing process) you often can see that their sore hip isn’t as bulky as the other hip. With muscle loss also comes a loss in strength so you may see they struggle more on their walks or up stairs. 

Starting an exercise program is a great way to help counteract this muscle loss. The issue though, is that your dog will eventually get so used to the exercise, like me and doing all those bicep curls, that it doesn’t actually increase strength or bulk.

If we want our dogs to continually improve in building strength then there are times when the exercises will need to be made harder. Sadly we can’t just give them some dumbbells and get them to strengthen that way!

There are a few ways we can advance exercises to continually provide the muscles with the challenges they need to grow. One such way is progressing the two paws up on a step to include a rear leg lift, as shown in the picture below and in the 8-week exercise program

two paws up with rear leg lift

Progressing the two paws up on a step by lifting a rear leg. 

If you have any questions about exercise progressions just send me an email using the contact form.

Here’s to your dog living and moving well,

Kylie 🐾❤️

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