The Cross Transfer of Training to an Injured Limb


Too often we come across an athlete who has been advised to “do nothing but rest” due to an injury. We really do not appreciate this passive approach to dealing with injury, in fact, we would argue that it leads to a longer, more difficult recovery process. There are many ways to implement an “active pre-surgery routine” in order to put someone in the best position possible going into and coming out of surgery. Some basic rules to live by:

1- If an athlete has an injured (insert structure(s)), you can still always train (insert other structure(s)).

2- Does it hurt? If you have clearance from the appropriate professional, you can still train the injured structure as long as there is no pain. Again, please make sure you have clearance from the appropriate professional (PT, orthopedic surgeon…)

@cgoldie5 suffered a contact full tear of his right ACL on September 26th. Working with his surgeon, we have implemented an active pre-surgery routine, to put Corey in the best place to have success coming out.

A University of Copenhagen study found that inactivity of a limb for up to 2 weeks, can lead can a 33% loss in strength. On average, it will take the body three times longer to recover for the lost strength (1).

“Cross-training effects” also known as “cross education” or “contralateral effects” has been debated under thousands of research studies for over 120 years. These terms have been used to define the strength gains earned in the untrained limbs during unilateral training. 16 studies revealed an average strength gain of about 7-11% in the untrained limb (2).

These strength gains are generally regarded as the result of two neurological functions: “spillover” and/or “transfer” (3-5).

In short, it is important as hell to train the injured limb to whatever degree you can. You should also train the uninjured limb as hard as possible. The research shows us that there will be training effect delivered to the untrained or less trained limb. Nothing too sexy about this video. Just a great demonstration of the variety of ways to train an injured limb to help it prepare for surgery. 

  • Josh Martensen

    Great article! Plan on training my client who recently had rotator cuff surgery. Will do lower body bilateral and unilateral lower body exercises and then same thing for the good arm. Continuing to work in conjunction with the Physical Therapist to gain ROM in his injured arm. Thanks again guys. Love all your content.