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Home > Trigger Point therapy > Pain Cycle

Muscle Tightness and The Pain Cycle

Muscle Tone Restoration - Newsletter - July 15, 2005

Definition of Muscle Tone

A health care professional once stated that "Tone is that degree of contraction shown by normal resting muscle and which maintains the attachments in proper anatomical relationship."

Function of Muscle Tone

The statement is corroborated in numerous physiology texts. It indicates that functional tone is responsible for structural alignment, which fits well with the proverb and the logical truth. "Life is the expression of tone." This says that normal muscle tone indicates good health, while disturbed muscle tone indicates disturbed health. Disturbed tone would also disturb structure.

Effects of a Hypertonic State

Not only does disturbed soft tissue disturb structure, it also affects the circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems and from a chain reaction could quite possibly affect a range of other systems in your body. Can you remember a time when discomfort and pain annoyed and angered you? You see how this condition not only affects your anatomical and physiological balance but also affects your emotions, and over an extended period it certainly could have a negative effect on you.

If not checked, this imbalance can spread

An imbalance in your body can be initiated in many different ways. From a musculo-skeletal viewpoint we will address how affected muscles and soft tissue, i.e. including tendons, ligaments and all connective tissue, can cause an imbalance. And if not remedied over time this condition can grow and spread to neighboring tissue, and can possibly cause a series of health problems. The initial symptoms are what we all recognize - discomfort, tightness and pain. Today I will share my view of how this process begins, builds and creates a pain cycle that is self-sustained and spreads.

Why Muscles Tighten Unintentionally

At rest or during sleep your body is totally relaxed and in an ideal state all your muscles are soft with just enough tone to hold your bones and joints together (resting tone). When you are active, the muscles being used bulge, firm up and shorten (high tone) on flexion and lengthen and relax (low/resting tone) on extension. Besides holding you together and performing activities, your muscles and soft tissue, along with the skeleton, protect you. Do you notice how your body tightens and your tissue “hardens” in the presence of danger? This also happens in anticipation of impact - notice how you “tighten up” when you anticipate pain. This is all fine if the soft tissue returns to its normal “resting tone” again when relaxed. If this does not happen, then the accumulation of tightness (high tone) has begun and can self perfetuate undetected for years.

The Pain Threshold

Muscle pain starts when the tone passes a certain level. This is called the Pain Threshold. Up to this point even though pain existed you could not feel it - so tightness is just a lower degree of pain. Remember how you tightened up in anticipation of pain - so too does the tissue that is experiencing pain ( that you do not feel yet ). So since tightness is (or causes) pain and pain causes tightness, we now have a pain cycle and hence a chronic tightness that does not soften when relaxed. What’s worse is that you are unaware of it since in the beginning all this is below your pain threshold and goes undetected, hence it can accumulate and grow until it turns to significant an chronic pain and requires serious attention.

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The purpose of these newsletters is to share an understanding of soft tissue tension and ways to restore muscle and other soft tissue condition and function.

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L back upper side neck L back upper neck L back mid side neck L back mid neck L back lower side neck L back lower neck L back side shoulder L back medial shoulder L lateral upper back L medial upper back L laterl mid back L medial mid back L lateral lower back L medial lower back L L4, L5, S1 L lateral glutius L center glutius L medial glutius L back lower hip L lower glutius L lower medial glutius L back outer upper leg L back upper leg L back medial upper leg L back outer leg above knee L back leg above knee L back inner leg above knee L lateral calf L back calf L medial calf L back lateral ankle L back ankle L back inner ankle L outer heel L heel L inner heel L outer sole L arch of foot L ball of foot - small toes L ball of foot - big toes L back outer shoulder L back shoulder L back outer upper arm L back upper arm L back inner upper arm L back arm above elbow L back inner arm above elbow L back outer arm above elbow L back lateral forearm L back forearm L back medial forearm L back lateral wrist L back wrist L back medial wrist L back lateral hand L back medial hand L back thumb L back big fingers L back small fingers R back upper side neck R back upper neck R back mid side neck R back mid neck R back lower side neck R back lower neck R back side shoulder R back medial shoulder R lateral upper back R medial upper back R laterl mid back R medial mid back R lateral lower back R medial lower back R L4, L5, S1 R middle glutius R center glutius R back lower hip R lower glutius R lower medial glutius R back outer upper leg R back upper leg R back medial upper leg R back outer leg above knee R back leg above knee R back inner leg above knee R lateral calf R back calf R medial calf R back lateral ankle R back ankle R back inner ankle R outer heel R heel R outer sole R R arch of foot R ball of foot - small toes R ball of foot - big toes R back outer shoulder R back shoulder R back outer upper arm R back upper arm R back inner upper arm R back arm above elbow R back inner arm above elbow R back outer arm above elbow R back lateral forearm R back forearm R back medial forearm R back lateral wrist R back wrist R back medial wrist R back lateral hand R back medial hand R back thumb R back big fingers R back small fingers R side head R front head R temple R face R lower jaw R side upper neck R front upper neck R center neck R side lower neck R front lower neck R upper side chest R upper center chest R lower side chest R lower center chest R front upper lateral abdomen R front upper medial abdomen R front lower lateral abdomen R front lower medial abdomen R side shoulder R front shoulder R inside shoulder R front upper side arm R front upper arm R front upper inner arm R front outer arm above elbow R front arm above elbow R front inner arm above elbow R front outer upper forearm R front upper forearm R front inner upper forearm R front lower forearm R front outer wrist R front wrist R front inner wrist R outer palm R inner palm R front thumb R front big fingers R front small fingers R front outer hip R front hip R groin area R front upper side leg R front upper leg R front upper inner leg R front mid side leg R front mid leg R front mid inner leg R front side above knee R front above knee R front inner above knee R front outer knee R front knee R front inner knee R upper outer shin R upper inner shin R lower outer shin R lower inner shin R front outer ankle R front ankle R front inner ankle R front lateral foot R front foot R front inner foot R front small toes R front big toes L side head L front head L temple L face L lower jaw L side upper neck L front upper neck L center neck L side lower neck L front lower neck L upper side chest L upper center chest L lower side chest L lower center chest L front upper lateral abdomen L front upper medial abdomen L front lower lateral abdomen L front lower medial abdomen L side shoulder L front shoulder L inside shoulder L front upper side arm L front upper arm L front upper inner arm L front outer arm above elbow L front arm above elbow L front inner arm above elbow L front outer upper forearm L front upper forearm L front inner upper forearm L front lower forearm L front outer wrist L front wrist L front inner wrist L outer palm L inner palm L front thumb L front big fingers L front small fingers L front outer hip L front hip L groin area L front upper side leg L front upper leg L front upper inner leg L front mid side leg L front mid leg L front mid inner leg L front side above knee L front above knee L front inner above knee L front outer knee L front knee L front inner knee L upper outer shin L upper inner shin L lower outer shin L lower inner shin L front outer ankle L front ankle L front inner ankle L front lateral foot L front foot L front inner foot L front small toes L front big toes
Primary Affected Area: Both sides

Secondary Affected Areas:(click on body map)

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