We’ve all heard that as we age, we lose muscle mass and strength. Anyone over 50 can attest to this. The medical term for this type of muscle loss is sarcopenia. And as we get older, this condition can put us at risk for all kinds of diseases like chronic inflammation and diabetes. Unfortunately, having a stroke can make the situation worse. How can you gain muscle mass after stroke to help your recovery?
Stroke survivors often lose extra muscle mass due to their injury, lack of exercise, and worsened quality of nutrition, making recovery extra difficult and increasing the risk of complications. A recent study from Japan took a further look into this and found that loss of muscle mass is associated with poor recovery after stroke.
Can you stop the process of muscle loss?
Is there anything you can do to stop this muscle loss and reverse sarcopenia? It turns out, there is. There are two factors that you need to consider if you’re looking to put on some extra muscle! First, you need to make sure you exercise. Second, you need to eat enough protein. Combing these two things has been proven effective for older people and, in particular, stroke survivors.
When we’re talking about exercising, you need to make sure you’re doing the right thing. To increase muscle mass, resistance training like squats and lunges work best. Simple bodyweight exercises like these are very effective in building muscle mass and strength in the upper and lower legs. You’ll notice the results, too, as you see your walking speed and stamina increase. And the benefits don’t stop there. By increasing your speed and strength, you reduce sarcopenia and you become healthier, which means less chronic inflammation, lower risk of falling, improved glucose clearance, and better recovery (and, of course, we could go on and on…).
Eating protein within 30 minutes after your training also helps with adding muscle mass. You can opt for a whey protein shake or protein bar like the athletes. Or you can go for something more basic like greek yogurt, cottage cheese, an egg, some chicken, or a handful of nuts.
Make sure you do this right
All of this sounds pretty basic, but you have to know the rules! For muscles to grow and become stronger, you need to activate them over and over again. Make sure you have a plan to do this correctly. Remembering to eat your protein is also easier said than done. To get the maximum results, you probably need a little help.
Interested in learning how to get this right? Join us! Try our walking course in the Strokemark app. Learn how to do exercises and get tips to improve your leg strength and walking speed.
The lead author of this original article is Y. Yoshimura, from the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Kumamoto Rehabilitation Hospital, Kumamoto, Japan.