As the U.S. population ages, massage therapists—especially those who practice geriatric massage—will very likely encounter clients with decreased muscle strength.

A new study shows decreased muscle strength is associated with difficulty in performing functional activities such as stooping, crouching, or kneeling (SCK) in older adults.

Researchers found that adults with SCK difficulty had significant decreases in adjusted strength measurements of trunk extensor, knee extensor, and ankle flexion muscles, according to a press release. Concluding that measurements of strength predict SCK difficulty, their study sets the stage for research exploring whether rehabilitation programs that focus on training specific muscle groups are effective in improving functional performance and whether improvements in functional performance reduces falls in older adults.

“The results of this study may have important implications for clinicians working to reduce falls risk in older adults,” Goldberg explained. “Rehabilitation or intervention programs aimed at addressing deficits in self-reported performance in stooping, crouching, or kneeling should focus on improving distal strength. Although addressing strength deficits is very important, those with stooping, crouching, or kneeling difficulty may also benefit from comprehensive programs by physical therapists that address balance confidence, coordination, leg joint limitations such as stiffness and pain, and sensory capacities.”

The study was published in the January issue of Physical Therapy, the scientific journal of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

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