Isokinetic Exercise

By Michelle Duclos MA ATC LAT CES

Have you heard of Isokinetic Exercises?

Most athletes and gym goers are familiar with isometric and isotonic exercise, and both are routinely included in effective exercise routines.  However, it’s not surprising that you may not be familiar with isokinetic exercises, because they are not commonly included in fitness routines.  In fact, they are most likely only familiar if you have needed rehabilitation from an injury.  So, what is isokinetic exercise and what are the benefits?

Isokinetic Exercise Machine rehabilitating a patients left knee. JOI Rehab

Isokinetic Machine for Rehabilitation

What is Isokinetic Exercise?

Isokinetic exercise allows a person to perform an exercise, or full range of motion, at a constant, controlled speed. This form of exercise requires some type of specialized equipment to help maintain a constant velocity regardless of the amount of force or effort you exert.

Machines that Utilize Isokinetic Movement

Isokinetic exercise machines are seen mostly in the best quality rehabilitation centers because they are quite expensive.  Some examples of these machines include:

  • Stationary bike: isokinetic models control the speed of the movement regardless of the force you exert.
  • Treadmill: as previously stated, an isokinetic application must be able to control the speed of the movement regardless of effort or force applied.
  • Arm Ergometer: an exercise bike for your arms that can control the speed of movement
  • Dynamometers: these specialized machines can measure force output at a controlled constant speed. This includes machines such as the Biodex which is offered by The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute at our San Marco Location.  The Biodex can do testing of strength and endurance as well as providing exercise for strength and endurance.

It is possible to use a stationary bike or treadmill at the gym for isokinetic exercise, however, you would have to deliberately control the speed at which you are pedaling or walking to get the same benefit.

Man in red shirt running on a treadmill for isokinetic exercise. JOI Rehab

Man in red on treadmill at a set pace.

Benefits of Isokinetic Exercise

Isokinetic exercise is primarily used in physical or occupational therapy to rehab and recover range of motion. Most often, This is following musculoskeletal injuries, surgeries, and strokes.  Isotonic exercises are commonly used to rehab osteoarthritis and ACL injuries. They can also be used to rehab injuries to other parts of the body including the shoulder, back, hip and ankle injuries.  These exercises are particularly beneficial in rehab because they have a built-in safety net to reduce the risk of reinjury due to overexertion during rehab.

Improving Strength Through Isokinetic Exercise

Isokinetic exercise can also be beneficial for improving strength, building muscle mass, and increasing endurance. Isokinetic exercise testing can provide the treating clinician with objective measurements that can help determine when an athlete is ready to progress further in their rehabilitation or training program.

Written By: Michelle Duclos MA ATC LAT CES

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