Tension & Tone
Muscles at rest maintain a certain level of contraction called tone. Postural muscles in your back and hips are involuntarily contracting and reflexively reacting continuously to keep you in any upright position. If all is going well, you are not aware of your muscles working. Excessive stress of any kind can cause muscle tension to increase, particularly in the postural muscles. If this tension lasts for prolonged periods, this can cause an out-of-balance state where these muscles have less ability to easily sense and respond to changes in your torso position. This leaves nerves, ligaments, and other joint structures vulnerable to strain and hence pain after carrying out simple everyday tasks such as lifting and reaching. The gym is a place where we not only challenge our muscles but where we intentionally perform exercises that help them relax. Relaxation practices such as stretching, yoga and other gentle movement techniques can help ease excessively tense muscles (as well as your stress) and help maintain pain-free movement ability. Learn to move your body into a variety of comfortable positions, connect your mind to your muscles and allow them to melt into a more restful state.
Anna Kotula, DPT