An isometric exercise is an exercise in which your muscles contract but do not lengthen and your joints do not move as you hold a particular position. Isometric exercises help to maintain your strength and are most commonly used during rehabilitation of an injury. Since there is no lengthening and shortening of the muscles, your muscles are only being strengthened in the position that you are holding. Some examples of isometric exercises include the wall-sit, superman hold and plank.
The wall-sit is an exercise that strengthens your legs. Stand with your back up against a wall, and walk your feet out from the wall. Slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel with the floor. In this position, your feet should be away from the wall enough so your heels are directly under your knees. Hold this position.
The superman is an exercise that is primarily intended to strengthen your lower back, but your whole body is involved to stabilize yourself to hold the position. Start by lying on your stomach with your arms over your head. Keep your arms by your ears, neck in line with your spine and legs straight behind your body as you lift your chest and legs off the floor. Hold this position.
The plank primarily works your abdominal muscles, but you are also working the rest of your body to keep yourself stabilized in the plank position. You can choose to either hold yourself up on your hands or elbows, whichever is more comfortable, and you also have the choice of holding yourself up on your toes or knees. Your goal should be to hold yourself up on your toes, but if that is too difficult at first, hold the plank from your knees. Lift your hips so your body forms a straight line, and hold that position.
Tips and Safety
How long you hold these exercises is going to depend on your muscular endurance in these positions. If you are just beginning, try to hold the position for 15 seconds and progressively increase your time as you get stronger. Make sure you never hold your breath while exercising. If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, you should not perform isometric exercises because the large increase in muscular tension when holding a position causes blood pressure to dramatically increase. Always consult your physician prior to starting a new exercise program.
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