The Monday Memo
July 17, 2017 PITT DPT STUDENTS
Concentric & Eccentric Contractions
As therapists, we understand so much about the human body and how it functions. It’s important to realize, however, that in many ways the ultimate goal is to educate the patient who’s coming to us for help.
We understand that our muscles act in many ways: statically or dynamically, quickly or slowly, voluntarily or involuntarily. One concept I continually stress to my patients is that of eccentric and concentric contractions. It’s a topic that most of us probably take for granted, but an effective explanation can make all the difference when it comes to patient buy in.
Let’s begin with defining three terms:
🔹Isometric Contractions: When a muscle produces force without changing length.
🔸Concentric Contractions: When a muscle produces force and shortens.
🔹Eccentric Contractions: When a muscle produces force and lengthens.
These are the classic definitions, and many of us explain this to our patients, but a simple tweak may enhance their understanding.
In reality, we can think of the eccentric contraction in an exercise as the deceleration phase and the concentric contraction as the acceleration phase. This adjustment in terminology can allow us to simplify things for our athletes and improve communication over our course of care.
Remember, the more effectively you can communicate with your clientele, the more effective of an educator your will be. It’s these little things that can make a huge difference in your success as a clinician.
Charles Badawy, SPT, CSCS, USAW,
Pitt DPT Class of 2019