How should healthy muscles feel? Self-help and prevention tips

Does this sound familiar, It’s bedtime and you toss and turn can’t find a restful position for your head or body and you start feeling every ache in your back, neck and shoulder.  Do you really get a restful night sleep? In the morning your back and neck are stiff so to you it can only mean “ I slept wrong” but is that right?

It’s your body communicating,  these events seldom emerge as a result of a single event but rather a compounding of minor influences, predisposing factors (shortness, tightness, altered firing sequence, active trigger points, weakness, restriction etc..  your body is talking to you.

Now if your muscles were to totally relax all at the same time, you would collapse.  So no matter what you’re doing, some of your muscle fibers are contracted.

This constant state of contraction is muscle tone. Without it, we would be a pile of  heap on the floor.

Muscle tone allows you to maintain correct posture, standing up erect with shoulders back , head up, abdomen in, and knees unlocked.

Healthy muscles should feel firm but not flaccid; yielding, yet not stiff. The dysfunction comes when muscles become spastic (muscles that have excessive tone) they’re on ready to go when they should be resting.

 learn more about Pain-Spasm-Pain Cycle

 So why don’t your muscles relax when you’re ready?

Ideally the body should be free from pain, able to move freely and posturally in balance which would make it easy for you to relax your body when you want to.  At times the imbalance and limitation will be happening with out you even noticing, which means it can be gradual, so pay attention!  The imbalances can be attributed to many, many factors.  Emotional holding patterns, mind/body connection, trauma, fascial restriction and so on but I will only address three  reasons here.

Imbalance in muscle tone
Posture, posture, posture, our mothers were right. Postural distortions are an imbalance in the muscle tone that moves the body off the coronal and/or middle of the plane along the axis of the body. Look in a mirror do you notice that your right shoulder is slightly forward and your left shoulder is higher. If you turn side ways is your head extended forward and your shoulders rounded. These patterns are due to the over-development of some muscle groups at the same time the under-development of others.

Muscle inflammation
A chemical crisis called “trigger point”  hyper-irritable tissue that is tender to the touch and gives rise to referred pain. Part of the reaction is a lack of blood and oxygen flow in the tissue this causes a feeling of numbness.  Trigger points can be activated by muscular strain, overuse or repetitive use from imbalance in muscle tone.

Biomechanical Dysfunctions
Postural distortion lead to  an imbalance in the musculoskeletal system resulting in faulty movement patterns.  Visit to learn more .

Reference: Clinical Applications of Neuromuscular Techniques by Leon Chaitow and Judith Walker Delaney

So here are a few tips on self-help and prevention

  • Adjust your posture. If your shoulders appear slumped, straighten them out without “squaring” them. They should be relaxed and even in alignment with your collarbone.
  • Sitting erect with lumbar support. This keeps the shoulders back
  • Use ice and heat accordingly to relieve pain and decrease stiffness. You may ice more than once per day if desired based on pain. Start with ice to reduce inflammation especially after increased activity (work or play) then heat and always end with ice.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure 

  • Stretching effectively stretch opens the tissues, be consistent
  • Yes to achieve proper balance,  regular exercise causes muscles to enlarge and be more resistant to fatigue. It’s important to note to begin any strength training or work out muscles should be healthy not stiff .
  • Massage but the right kind that helps your body adapt to the changes that can correct postural distortions
  • Get enough sleep, Don’t skip meals, Exercise, Reduce stress, RELAX

So as the saying goes “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”  Johann von Goethe

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