Muscle Tone 101: What you should know!

Muscle Tone 101

Muscles have two jobs; the two jobs are simple contract and relax. Often when there is pain or muscle weakness it’s because the body has developed trigger points to “protect” itself and creates tight muscles. The body is set up so there are muscles on both sides opposing each other. If one side becomes dysfunctional or more dominate then that is when compensation takes place and leads to pain. Take tight quads and hip flexors that can’t relax and end up pulling the pelvis forward into an anterior pelvis tilt. This might cause constant lower back pain because the body is tired of the compensation and wants the pelvis to be able to move in all directions. When we release the quads with any technique that will allow the pelvis to move freely again, this is why we choose to do muscle work before adjustments.

Ways to work on tight muscles or trigger points:

• Compression of tender points

• Vibration and percussion

• MET - contract/relax, reciprocal inhibition

• Intentional shortening followed by stretch

• Dry needling or injection

• Electrical stim

• Movement is a critical component

            Over the last 20 years self-care trigger points have really come to light of health and fitness industry. Learning these self-care tips can help adjustments and muscle work last longer. I want to highlight 3 techniques from about that hopefully will help with a better home self-care routine compression of tender points, vibration, and percussion, and contract/relax.

            Compression of tender points- Tools best used for the technique are lacrosse balls, tennis/softballs, foam roller, and any tool you can use to find a tender spot in the body. The goals with this technique are to find a tender spot, hangout on the spot with good breaths, and if you want to take muscle through range of motion. Why I like this technique is its simple and cheap plus can be a good way to warm up.

            Vibration and Percussion- Tools best used for this technique are massage guns, foam rollers/balls with vibration, and light percussion used with hands/fist. The goals with this technique are again to find tender spots in the body, use the tool across the muscle area that’s soar, and create stretch in the tight muscles. Why I like this technique is the brain perceives vibration as lengthen the muscles, the vibration can provide as a distraction, and it targets fast twitch muscles so good for warming up high impact/explosive activities.

            Contract/Relax- Tools best used for this technique are understanding the anatomy of muscles origin and insertion. The goals with this technique are to create awareness that muscles are tight/weak, being able to relax is a learned skill, and it also targets not only the muscles we are working on but also the opposing muscles. Why I like this technique is it creates body awareness, it is one of the safest ways to train muscles, and literally just needs your own body. I will do a full training session, mostly an active recover session to take muscles through this process.

            Mychal really utilizes all three of the techniques above in a pain and performance session to get the most out of the body.