What’s happening at the tissue level during exercise?

Ever wonder why exercise is such a huge part of a physiotherapist’s repertoire or how it works to repair and strengthen tissue? An article published a few years back in the BJSM gives a pretty nice description. The authors explain the process by which cells sense and respond to mechanical loads (e.g. exercise) known as mechanotransduction. This process has three components, and can explain the changes seen in bone, tendons, muscle, and cartilage when controlled loading is applied.

The first step is the loading (mechanocoupling), whereby the cells experience a force that causes it to deform. Second is the response this provokes from the cell (cell-cell communication). The mechanical forces at one point start a signalling cascade throughout the tissue so all the cells are on the same page. Thirdly and lastly, the cells rebuild and remodel to put up with the new stressors (effector response). To sum it all up, when you’re doing calf raises, the cells in your Achilles tendon experience the stress, communicate between themselves, and rebuild to keep up. If you want to read the full article click here. So next time you’re doing your home exercises and think you’re working hard, imagine how hard your cells are working to keep up as well!

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