Muscle tone and muscle tension
When one relaxed, one must think the muscles must completely rest without any activity. Actually this is not the case. Muscles in the body are constantly in contracted state which creates muscle tone. Muscle tone is formed from the continuous and passive partial contraction of the muscles at resting state. Because of the muscle tone, muscles are resistant to passive stretch. It helps maintain posture, balance and respond to sudden pull and stretch. If a sudden pull occurs, the muscles are automatically increased the tension to prevent the body from danger. Generally speaking, low tone increases flexibility and decreases strength and high tone decreases flexibility and increases strength. However there are many exceptions. For example, if the muscle becomes cramped, it loses its strength. Poor posture can result in high muscle tones in related group of muscles.
Muscle tension is formed when muscles remain semi-contracted involuntarily for a period time. Muscle tension can be caused by stress and inflammation. One can feel headache, muscle pain, muscle tightness and stiffness. Muscle tension is a condition in which some muscles of the body remain semi contracted status. It is typically caused by the physiological and/or psychological stress. The tension could happen anywhere in the body. Face and back are common places of accumulation of tension. You may feel tightness and tension or you may not feel anything. Factors affect muscle tension: lack of sleep, excessive nervous system activity such as too busy schedule, excessive exercises, expose to the cold, too much coffee, smoking, chronic inflammation, fatigue, poor posture, anxiety etc.
Muscle changes with aging and muscle tightness, acupuncture can help
With aging changes in the skin and hair are common and more noticeable. People might not realise that muscles are also changing with aging. This change could start at age 30 and accelerate at age 50. Muscle fibres reduce in number and shrink in size. Muscle tissue is replaced more slowly and lost muscle tissue is replaced with a tough, fibrous tissue. Also changes in the nervous system cause muscle to lose tone and ability to contract and become rigid. Muscle loses strength because of a decrease in the production of anabolic hormones such as testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 and impairment of protein production. This can contribute to fatigue, weakness and reduced tolerance to exercise. The types of muscle fibers are affected by aging as well. The numbers of muscle fibers that contract faster decrease much more than the numbers of muscle fibers that contract slower. Thus, muscles are not able to contract as quickly in old age.
With aging bone has changed as well. Bones lose calcium and other minerals and become less dense. This change becomes dramatic after menopause due to hormones change in both female and male. With aging joint movement becomes stiffer and less flexible because the amount of lubricating fluid inside the joints decreases and the cartilage becomes thinner. Ligaments also tend to shorten and lose some flexibility, making joints feel stiff. Also the connective tissue within ligaments and tendons becomes more rigid and brittle. This change also limits the range of motion of joints.
What to do?
Exercise can prevent many age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints – and reverse these changes as well. Exercise can make bones stronger and help slow the rate of bone loss; muscle-strengthening can increase muscle mass and strength; Stretching helps maintain joint flexibility; walking is a good exercise for maintenance of bone mass.
Acupuncture is a good way to release muscle tension. Acupuncture helps improving blood circulation and improves nutrition and oxygen supply to the muscles and bones and improves metabolism of muscles and bones. Acupuncture helps reduce inflammation, release and repair any damage of the tendons and ligaments.
Muscles tightness, acupuncture can help.
Muscle tightness is that muscles feel tight and stiff which is caused by muscle contractions. Some people feel pain of muscles. Muscle tightness often develops from overuse, trauma, stress or illness. Muscles shorten over time and they become weaker over time. Muscle contraction leads to ischemia and degeneration of the muscle fibers which further weaken the muscles. Loss of balance can occur. Muscle tightness also increases the risk of muscle strain or tearing of muscle fibers during activity. It is important to maintain flexibility to relieve muscle tightness and reduce risk of injury.
Fascia is dense connective tissue sheets and it plays an important role in transmitting force in human posture and movement regulation. Fascia is usually seen as having a passive role, transmitting mechanical tension which is generated by muscle activity or external forces. However, there is some evidence to suggest that fascia may be able to actively contract in a smooth muscle-like manner and consequently influence musculoskeletal dynamics. Myofibroblast cells are a special type of cells with smooth muscle like contractility. These cells are present at skeletal muscle tendons, ligaments and many organ capsules. They are also reported in fascia. The density is higher in younger people. Fascia contraction contributes to the tension and stiffness of the muscles, such as back pain, frozen shoulder and headaches etc. Releasing fascia contraction could improve muscle tension and stiffness.
Tendon also has aging changes. There are many cellular and vascular changes within the aging tendon. As a result the aged tendon becomes weaker than it used to be and more likely to tear or get overuse injury, when there is increased stress and strain. With aging process, the density of tendon cells decrease and nucleus becomes bigger, long and thin; cell metabolic activity decreases such as protein and amino acids synthesis. Extracellular changes occur with aging: for example, Elastic fibers and water content decrease which contribute to the tendon stiffness and gliding reduction; collagen content changes little, but the relative amount of collagen, volume density and mechanical stiffness increase due to decrease of water content; collagen synthesis and mechanical properties, solubility decrease. Blood Vessels in tendon change. Tendon blood flow and the number of capillaries per unit of surface area decrease with increasing age. The decreased arterial blood flow and thus decreased nutrition and oxygen transport have been suggested to be the main etiological factors behind the age-related tendon degeneration.
As mentioned above that acupuncture can release muscle tightness and relax your muscles.
Muscle knots and muscle pain, acupuncture can help
Muscles in the body are connected and overlapped. This brings the body moving around and doing various activities without problem. Sometimes the muscles can lose some mobility and flexibility. Injury and overuse are common cause for muscles problems. For example muscle knots are one of the common problems. It can happen to any muscles.
Muscle knots are initially formed by muscle fiber contraction or spasm. This is commonly caused by acute injury or chronic overuse. The muscles knots are very sensitive causing stillness and pain. Severity of the pain varies. If the knots are not treated properly, inflammation can persist, and adhesion and scar tissues make the knots and related muscles lose elasticity and the knots become harder and more difficult to get rid of.
Do you know acupuncture can help to get rid of muscle knots effectively?
Allen RE and Kirby KA Am Fam Physician (2012) 86:350-5
R. Schleip et al Medical Hypotheses (2005) 65, 273–277
Welcome to my blog, discover acupuncture with Dr Maggie Ju
Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Many year research and clinical experiences. This blog is for information only.
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