We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Cross Education?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 19, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Cross education is a phenomenon where a person working only one limb will notice a corresponding increase in strength and coordination in the other extremity. While the resting limb will not develop strength as quickly as the one the person is exercising, it will experience some improvement. People can turn this to their advantage in a number of settings, including during injury recovery when they may have to rest a limb to reduce the risks of further injury or complications.

In a simple example of cross education, a person could start lifting weights with the right arm only. The right arm would bulk up and develop muscle strength, and so would the left, to a lesser degree. A variety of exercise techniques can draw upon cross education, such as alternating exercise on either side of the body to give limbs a chance to rest. The resting limb does not go into complete stasis because it is still receiving signals, and will stay warmed up while the person works the other side of the body.

The body exhibits bilateral symmetry and the two halves have a number of connections. When someone works one side of the body, the nerves on the other side experience stimulation. Neurological activity can create muscle strength as well as contributing coordination training. On the spinal cord level, signals will stimulate both sides of a set of nerve roots, not just one, when people are working one side of the body. The brain also appears to be involved in cross education, as it plays a role in developing motor skills, including strength and coordination.

For people with injuries, cross education allows them to work out to retain strength, coordination, and skill without injuring the affected limb. A trainer can work with the patient to develop an appropriate exercise plan. This technique can also be useful for building up strength in a weaker limb; the patient focuses on exercising that limb and not working the stronger one, building up more equal strength and coordination over time. The low-level stimulation of the strong limb prevents atrophy.

The mechanics of cross education are still a subject of study. While people have been able to document the process, the precise mechanism of action is somewhat unclear. People like athletic trainers and physical therapists can both use this phenomenon in their work. Exercise classes and programs sometimes also integrate some level of cross education, depending on the nature of the program and its goals.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.