The human body has more than 650 muscles, including skeletal muscles, cardiac muscle, and smooth, or involuntary muscles. They perform different functions in the body from pumping blood, mobility, and stability to helping us lift objects. However, for muscles to do all these things, muscle strength — muscle power function is important.
Muscle strength refers to the maximum resultant power output that muscles generate voluntary under specific conditions. It’s a vital body function that affects aging adults and can be caused by other medical conditions such as arthritis infections, heart failure, stroke, musculoskeletal infections among others. Muscle strength impairment can also result after major surgery, and that’s why physical therapy is recommended for some patients to rehabilitate their muscle power function.
Impairments in muscles need to be addressed as they can adversely affect your quality of life, limiting your range of motion, lengthening body recovery period, and even a major predicator for some mortality cases. As such, practical tools for measuring muscle strength such as digital pressure algometers, dual digital inclinometer, and dynamometer muscle testing are needed.
Muscle Testing Machine, Equipment and Procedures
A practical solution when it comes to muscle testing refers to muscle strength testing equipment that is designed for efficiency and effectiveness. Equipment that is easy to use, portable and inexpensive. Some of the main practical muscle testing machines include.
- Manual muscle testing
- Hand-held dynamometry
- Hand-grip dynamometry
- Field tests
- Sit-to-Stand Tests is a field test technique aimed at grading lower extremity strength of your limbs. It involves the use of a standard armless chair, where an individual is supposed to stand and sit at intervals, repeating the process for 30 seconds. So by folding the hand across the chest and feet flat on the floor, the tester begins to count out loud the number of completed SST successful.
- Heel-Raise Test
Although there is other functional assessment equipment for testing muscle strength, these four are the most effective in terms of results validity, responsiveness, and interpretability.
1. Manual Muscle Testing
MMT is an old-age technique that involves observation, palpation, and break-test force application by a practitioner to assess both the active and inactive muscles in a patient. The examiner uses the power of observation once the presence of muscle movement is noticed to assess action’s forces and grading muscle force.
In terms of reliability, manual muscle testing has been seen to vary due to a range of contributors including tester strength and resistance. MMT has also limited sensitivity as a practical option for measuring muscle strength, especially for those with fairly strong muscles.
2. Hand-held Dynamometry (HHD)
HHD is a practical muscle testing machine due to its portability and ease-of-use. So it works by first the examiner placing the device against a targeted muscle group that exerts a crescendoing force.
To ensure the validity of results, HHD should be used under a minimum gravity pull.
3. Hand-grip Dynamometry
Hand-grip dynamometry is different from HDD in that instead of testing overall muscle strength it tests for grip strength of an individual. Grip strength is a good indicator of overall muscle strength hence recommended for older adults admitted in care homes and hospitals.
4. Field Testing
Another common muscle testing procedure is field testing which makes use of the bodyweight resistance to measure muscle strength or performance. There are several field testing procedures but we’ll look at the two most common, sit-to-stand (STS) and heel-raise (HR) tests.
SST aims at activating knee extensors while HR is meant to quantify the ankle strength of the plantar flexor muscles. The test is achieved by having a patient stand facing or a wedge, where they get to complete bilateral heel-to-raise sets with a non-weight bearing on the other limb.
Muscle strength testing is an important element of holistic well-being. It helps determine muscle impairments and grading muscle strength for different patients. The above mentioned practical muscle testing procedures have strength and limitations, and an experienced examiner can help you choose the right technique for your specific condition. Some test like MMT are hands-on and don’t require muscle testing machine, rather depends on the examiner’s observation and strength.