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Sports Medicine

Strength Training with a Broken Arm



My 17 yr old son broke his left arm in football and is in a full arm cast. He was told if he lifted weights with his right arm, 60% of the strength gained would transer to his left side. ??? any truth to this, and if so, how?


The terms "cross-over training", "cross education for strength", and "contralateral strength training effect" each refer to a means of strengthening one limb by performing strengthening exercises using the opposite limb. This is of particular value when one limb can't be exercised directly (due to a cast or recent surgery, for example)
For cross-over training to occur, the "trained" limb must perform strengthening exercises utilizing maximum or near-maximum force. This creates maximal activation of the neural circuits within the central nervous system, presumably resulting in a "cross-over" of the neural component of strength gain to the untrained side. This can allow the untrained limb to gain anywhere from 25% to 50% of the strength gained on the trained side.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University