14 Aug 2006 03:47 pm

What is Muscle Memory?

What is this thing bodybuilders and weightlifters refer to as muscle memory? Is it for real?

The following forum post addresses this common concern often raised by athletes when back pain, neck pain or a sports injury forces them to take a layoff from training.

Steven wrote:

Thanks for the advice Mitch and Ron, but I just have a few more questions. I do agree and think I might need to lay off working out for a while, but the thing is I really couldn’t afford to stop for more than a month. Because after that all my hard work would start to disappear pretty fast.

Longtime bodybuilder, Mitch responds with some good advice for this young athlete concerned over possibly losing strength and muscle mass during recovery…

Hi Steven,

I know you’re concerned about losing your hard-earned gains, but believe me, your fears are unfounded. I’ve been a bodybuilder for over 30 years and I’ve had to take many, many lay-offs for as long as 6 months or more at a time due to injuries and I’ve never had any trouble getting back to my previous strength levels within 3 to 4 weeks.

The reason for this is something most lifter’s call “muscle memory.” Once you train a muscle to a certain level it “remembers” and can return very quickly to that previous condition.

That’s not to say you could take 10 years off and expect to bounce back within a few months, but taking the time off you need to heal from this minor injury isn’t going to affect your long-term gains in any significant way.

On the other hand, the longer you put off allowing this injury a chance to recover the greater risk you’re taking with your entire athletic career. Do the smart thing and concentrate your efforts now on full recovery so you can get back to training at 100% that much sooner.

As far as your lower back is concerned, I doubt the neck problem has anything to do with it. I would think it would be the other way around. Your lower back problem could be contributing to your neck problem.

Good luck,

You can read the entire thread of this conversation as well as many more gems of wisdom from fellow rebuilders dealing with neck pain, sciatica, herniated discs and more in the Rebuilder’s Forum.

Be sure to check it out.

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