There is a new body measurement gaining popularity, called Phase Angle. It is currently used in hospitals to monitor nutritional assessment and recognised as a general ‘wellness’ biomarker, however this measurement has found its way into the fitness industry with huge intrigue. There is a statistical significant correlation between Phase Angle and muscle strength (lean muscle mass).
Could this be another way to accurately measure muscle strength and prevent over-training and injury?
Measuring a person’s Phase Angle is simple, quick and non-invasive, much like measuring body composition.
Recent exciting research has led Phase Angle to be accepted as a global health marker. Although there are no cut-off points or normal ranges as yet, there is a certainly a general trend that individuals can follow. A lowering of Phase Angle reflects a deterioration of health, whereas an increased Phase Angle indicates an improvement of health, often related to an increase in lean muscle mass through strength training, eating healthily or general fitness and wellness.
Phase Angle is a measurement from a specific and advanced bioelectrical impedance device specially designed to measure Phase Angle. It has been described as a direct measurement of the integrity of the cell membranes within our body. Thus healthy body cells reflect a higher Phase Angle, in the same way, a lower Phase Angle will indicate unhealthy cells or disease (acute or chronic). In some hospital settings, clinicians have used Phase Angle to monitor the growth or recovery of tumour cells, particularly breast cancer (International Journal of Health & Allied Sciences • Vol. 3 • Issue 1 • Jan-Mar 201).
As well as the numerous benefits in a clinical setting, Phase Angle is increasingly becoming known as an indicator for muscle strength and nutritional status. In fact, most dietitians and nutritionists have now heard of Phase Angle in some sense.
This has potential for a wide variety of potential applications such as sports injury, rehabilitation and tracking of strength training.
A study based on elite Brazilian athletes depict a strong correlation between Phase Angle and increased muscle strength, and in fact noted that “intense physical training may affect cellular membrane stability” as shown by the Phase Angle marker. This has led to the question whether Phase Angle can actually predict injury? (Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (2008), 67 (OCE8), E332)
The Olympian rowing team in Slovenia used Phase Angle in Rio as part of their training, and it was found that an unusually high Phase Angle (>10) indicated over-training, and poor performance due to muscle fatigue.
So should we be tracking our Phase Angle instead of our weight if our aim is for holistic wellness as well as an increase in muscle strength? Could this simple measurement be giving us more value than we realize? The potential of this small figure is huge. I have no doubt this will be a well-known biomarker within the fitness as well as the medical industries in the very near future.
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