It's the summertime and bathing suit season is upon us. People are heading to the gym to get back into shape. Commercial gyms across the country are packed with people with the good intention to begin a long term exercise program. And yet, ninety-five percent of those people will stop going to the gym within three weeks. Why?
There are a lot of reasons why people start exercising and then stop shortly thereafter. One major reason is that many people are not prepared to begin exercising in the first place. What I want to talk about today is a way to prepare the body to tolerate exercise that greatly increases the chance of long term success. The good news is that there is process, unknown to many, that is excellent at bridging the gap between a sedentary life and a consistent exercise program. This process is called Muscle Activation Techniques.
The primary tenet of Muscle Activation Techniques is bold. That tenet is this: muscle tightness is a symptom of muscle weakness. You can think of it this way: muscle tightness is a cough or a runny nose, while
muscle weakness is the cold virus. For most people, this is a paradigm shift in the way we think about muscles and their role in the body.
Let me explain how this process evolves. Over time due to stress, trauma, and overuse, muscles lose their contraction efficiency in certain regions of the body. The body manages that loss of contraction efficiency by increasing muscle tension. This tension then prevents joints from achieving certain positions. This is both good and bad. It's good because it protects the joints from getting into positions that could potentially lead to injury. It's bad because we may want to move into those positions in certain exercises at the gym or when performing simple daily tasks. It's also bad because the loss of motion in enough joints can lead to a significant amount of motion compensation. Motion compensation means that some muscles are coming to work and others are staying at home on the couch. So what ends up happening is the ones that are coming to work get really efficient but also worn out doing their job and the job of many other muscles.
So how does this impact exercise? Well, what ends up happening is that the muscles that are coming to work get really strong but overworked. The ones that are laying at home on the couch get really weak and eventually forget how to do their job. This makes exercise way less effective and can lead to pain and injury. This is where I come in as a Muscle Restoration Specialist: I get all of your workers to come back to work. This results in not only safe and effective exercise, but also results in a reduction of pain and an increase in mobility.
So how does Muscle Restoration work? To start, Muscle Restoration determines where in the body one has lost optimal contractile capabilities in the muscles. I determine this by assessing the range of motion availability of all of the joints in the body. For example, a loss of motion in one joint, compared to the same joint on the other side of the body, is an indication of loss of muscle contractile capability in the muscles that allow that joint to move into (into what we call it’s “end range position.” Remember out tenent that muscle tightness is secondary to muscle weakness.
Once a loss of motion is detected in a joint, the next step of the Muscle Restoration process is to confirm the loss of muscle contraction by testing the individual muscles that move that joint into the position where the loss of motion has been confirmed. If a client cannot generate a specific amount of tension under the force of the practitioner's test, the muscle is deemed weak. (A test involves the client lightly resisting pressure from the practitioner. The tests are neither painful nor invasive). If the muscles test weak we can confirm that loss of muscle contraction is the culprit for the lack of joint motion.
The third step of Muscle Restoration is to actually restore the function (contractile efficiency) of the muscles. This is accomplished by applying a digital force (very gentle hand palpation) to the muscle attachment sites, or by having the client do a series of gentle isometric exercises (an exercise to build muscle without involving movement of the joint). You can think of it as jump starting a car battery: the digital force application or the isometric exercise restores the electrical communication between the muscles and the central nervous system.
The final step of Muscle Restoration is to retest after implementing the muscle activation technique. The client should be able to generate significantly more tension in the activated muscles in response to the retests. After all the impacted muscles have been activated the practitioner finally re-examines the available motion at the joint. The joint will typically move significantly more freely once optimal muscular contraction has been restored.
We say that Muscle Restoration “restores your neuromuscular system back to its factory settings.” Our process to assess and address the root cause of pain is unique, because rather than stressing an already over-worked muscle, Muscle Restoration aims to jump-start proper neuromuscular communication, bringing all your muscles back to work.
So, back to exercise. Hopefully, you can now see how the Muscle Restoration prepares the body to tolerate the demands of exercise. It's much safer, and way more fun, to exercise when all of your workers are coming to work, or in this case, to the gym. And when it's way more fun and less stressful to exercise, chances are better that you will stay on your exercise program long term.
Contact us at Austin Muscle Restoration today to set up your evaluation. Our joint and muscle experts can help you prepare for a safe and enjoyable exercise program. We also offer personal fitness training services, where you can work out out with our specialized trainer in the privacy of our gym. We help clients from age 12-80 of any fitness level. We hope to meet you soon.