Today I want to talk about muscle tone and how your muscles cope with injury. Just as a reminder in my first post I talked about Biotensegrity - the body is a self-supporting unit, if you change one part then there will be ripples, adaptions and changes to the whole system, it's how the body copes with life!
What is muscle tone? It is the degree of contraction of a muscle at rest. It is the condition of the small nerve impulses that keep the muscle alive, these disappear under anaesthetic or when a nerve is cut, which if serious leads to muscles withering. This is NOT muscle tension, muscles with continuous high tone actually lose some of their tone as they become more rigid and less dynamic e.g. tension in the shoulders from sitting at a desk all day. In anyone that uses their body actively then you should be able to feel a degree of tone in most muscles when resting, have a little feel of the squishy part of your forearm and you should feel some tone there, therefore conversely in someone who does not use their muscles you should feel a softness or a lack of energy in the muscles at rest. If we use the principle of biotensegrity then changing the tone of one muscle will surely have a ripple effect on the whole body.
Everyone is born with a set number of muscle fibres however through exercise the size of a muscle can increase and through lack of exercise can shrink. All muscles are actually really working all of the time, they are interconnected through the tendons to bones, this is known as resting muscle tension and helps to maintain the tone of the body. Muscles hold the body upright and are described as being vertiginous, as opposed to keeping you from falling down. To move, one muscle/s contract and others relax working together, and the ligaments suspend the joints, therefore it takes minimal effort to produce a movement. The muscles provide stability and mobility, both consciously and unconsciously.
Muscle imbalances or weaknesses can cause joint instability, looking at the picture you can see that if a muscle has too little tone aka neurologically weak its antagonist reacts by shortening and tightening, causing that joint to become unstable. This can effect posture, muscle function, tone and may even pull an important structure out of alignment. When you have a massage we can relax the tight muscle but if the weakened muscle is not strengthened then the tension will return, hence why your pain or problem comes back! A muscle can lose tone through injury, over contracted or stretched and remains that way until something can return it to normal, sometimes this is just a proper nights sleep!
Just muscle stuff today, hope it was interesting, definitely reminds me of how posture can adapt through stress, working at a computer, repetitive tasks.
Try use your muscles in a different way today, get them out of the ordinary, go crazy... brush your teeth with your left hand :o