Purpose: A decrease in strength, and its associated loss of functional ability is common among the elderly. Although resistance training can reverse this decline, associated injuries with frequently used strength assessments may present a greater risk.
Methods: To evaluate the injuries associated with maximal strength evaluations, 83 relatively healthy elderly subjects (40 men and 43 women, 65.8 +/- 6.2 years) with and without prior weight training experience performed 1 repetition maximum testing (1 RM) involving 5 different exercises: chest press, leg extension, abdominal curl, arm curl, and seated calf raise. Subjects were separated into three groups depending on weight training experience, Group 1 had no weight training experience (n = 32), Group 2 had < 6 months of training (n = 24), and Group 3 had > 6 months of training (n = 27). Injury assessment was made 30 minutes, 2 days, and 7 days posttesting.
Results: Two Group 1 subjects sustained an injury (2.4% of total subjects, 8% of Group 1). Eighty-one subjects safely completed the 1 RM assessment without injury (97.6% of total). Forty-eight of the 83 subjects complained of muscle soreness after testing (58% of total). This complaint alone was not sufficient to be categorized as an injury.
Conclusions: These results indicate that 1 RM testing is an acceptable tool in strength evaluations in the elderly. Additional precautions may be needed in inexperienced, elderly individuals to prevent injury.