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Increasing/decreasing muscle tone
Hi everybody, 

I hope you will find interest in sharing your experiences and knowledge in this thread.
Below you will find a couple of definitions and introductions about muscle tone and ligamentous mobility, which might help access the topic.
Please, don’t hesitate to add what you know and what might be relevant.

Here my thoughts and questions:

According to my (or my students’) predisposition and the kind of activity I want to prepare for, I might want or need to raise or lower my (my students’) muscular tone.

A list of basic typical warm-up activities can be rubbing, tapping, shaking, massaging, light touch, mobilizing motion centers, running, bouncing, pushing, pulling, large range movements, small range movements, dynamic stretching, static stretching, mixed activities …

What type of (warm-up) activities increase or decrease muscle tone?

Has anyone rather low tone experienced that some of the activities listed above has helped increase the tone? Which ones? Other?
Has anyone rather high tone experienced that some of the activities listed above has helped decrease the tone? Which ones? Other?

I have heard that some activities can have both effects, like a rebalancing effect, lowering the muscle tone in high tone bodies and increasing it in low tone bodies. Is this true? How does it work?

Does the effect depend on what kind of awareness or score I chose to bring into the activity? If, when shaking for example, I emphasize muscular contraction by aggregating body parts, or train inhibition of contraction by isolating body parts (overall or selective)? 

How many of you assume to have a rather high or low overall muscle tone?

Having personally a rather high tone body and I think average tight ligaments, I have found myself in the dance world among many rather hyper flexible bodies.giv I have more often heard counsel about how to compensate for hyper flexibility, and less often about how to decrease muscular tonus. So, when I felt too rigid, I thought, well I just have to figure out how to relax. That in fact has been big part of my learning process, especially because it seemed a necessary premise towards developing more differentiated muscle control. From simple on/off to an infinite range of degrees of muscular contraction. Something I personally find fascinating. 
And then further towards different kinds of mio-fascial/fascial activities: concentric contraction, eccentric contr., isometric contr., inhibition of contr., stretch, elastic recoil, lead-lag. And finally the infinite playground of dosing what, how much, where and when in movement.

But taking a step back again, my impression has been that in order to access a conscious, differentiated, sometimes secure and efficient application of different kinds of muscular activities, it seems important to have a certain understanding of muscle tone, ligamentous laxity/tightness, (besides of course articular range of motion and alignment), as well as where and to what degree this applies to mine and other bodies. 

Still my experiences and impressions feel subjective. I have not quite understood yet what the variables are that determine the temporary (or long term) raising or lowering of muscular tone.

Thanks for reading this and looking forward to exchanging with you, 


Muscle tone
from AS forum
Even when a whole muscle is not contracting, a small number of its units are involuntarily activated to produce a sustained contraction of the muscle fibers. The process gives rise to muscle tone. To sustain muscle tone, small groups of motor unites are alternately active and inactive in a constantly shifting pattern. Muscle tone keeps skeletal muscles firm, but it does no result in a contraction strong enough to produce movement.
Hi Manu

nice subject... these are my present thoughts..
I gather that tonus can be lowered by stimulating the Golgi and Ruffini receptors mainly (see attached article by Schleip)
So touch yes - deep tissue manipulation, stroking, tapping and especially sheer force in joints through twisting.

Eccentric contraction, Pandiculation resets the adequate tone to start moving after a night's sleep and Thomas Hanna's application of it through active mid range stretching be used to reset it thought training. I understand this as probably due to stimulus of the Golgi receptors when deep eccentric stretching is happening actively in mid range, and from this article could extrapolate that it is also due to Ruffini stimulation from under the skin in active stretching...?
I thought pandiculation could also increase the tone but can't find evidence of it...

To increase the tone I understand that concentric and isometric contractions can do that, so weight bearing... in position like the plank where the range is neutral. or weight training.
Also working on balance, isometric contractions to sustain a position. 

In balancing positions like one leg stand for example the actual work being isometric but subtly eccentric at the same time -if isometric is also about eccentric fighting concentric (!) in the search for expansion - so it may be doing both..(?) Could this be a way of resetting tone, lower to higher and vice-versa? Just a thought...

Physiological trembling decreases muscle tone but vibration stimulated Pacini receptors (Kathleen's use of the vibration machine intrigued me...) may increase sense of kinestesia (Pacini receptors) and so could help in sustaining difficult equilibriums or help overall coordination while moving and so help increase or at least reset tone (?)

In the practice of the AS I find that muscle inhibition lowers the tone. Elastic recoil can lower the tone or have simultaneous effects in fact, especially in the proximal option and lead and lag, if practiced with continuity in improvisation. It seems to be resetting the overall tensegrity in the body (alignment, tone..) 


Attached Files
.pdf   Schleip_mechanoreceptors_2003.pdf (Size: 194.59 KB / Downloads: 7)
Thank you Emanuela 

very interesting article below! Here my thoughts...
So deep slow tissue manipulation seems to help decrease muscle tone, whereas fast sudden tactile pressure like pinching or other “strong and rapid manipulations … induce general contraction of the skeletal muscles”, which would result in a temporary increase in tonus.

Not sure about the “shear forces in joints” you mention, as shear forces in joints would cause dislocation of the joint, as far as I understand it. 
Maybe you mean mobilization of the joint? 

Yes I forgot, pandiculation, thanks! There are already articles about this on the forum. Here another one. I also understand that pandiculation decreases muscle tonus.

As to vibration, shaking, trembling, from an empirical point of view I would say that it can either increase or decrease muscle tone, overall or in specific muscle groups, or even within specific aspect of a muscle. I would argue that it depends on how much you use muscle contraction to resist the vibration or to drive the shaking, or if you voluntarily and selectively inhibit muscle contraction to allow muscles to be passively shaken. Perhaps intervals between both can also train coordination ability of selectively activating or inhibiting muscle contraction. 

I would say inhibition of contraction is a sophisticated coordination ability that results from the ability to voluntarily contract or release muscles, to the necessary or chosen degree. It seems to me as an ability that probably depends on the regulation of muscle tone. 

Personally I’m not sure of the effects of elastic recoil and lead and lag that you mention. Here also I would argue that ER as well as LL are sophisticated coordination abilities alternating between contraction and relaxation, especially because it is timing dependent. A very high tone body as well as a very low tone body will have difficulty applying ER and LG principles. The ability of effectively profit from ER and LL in movement results, I would say, from training awareness and regulation of muscle tone (as the residual continuous and passive partial contraction or passive resting length of a muscle, short term and long term), as well as the abilities to activate or inhibit muscle contraction in real time. 

Let me know what you think.

Concerning elastic recoil, here is a very interesting article that Frey shared recently during one of his online classes.

- Conditioning of fascial components through regular oscillatory exercise with an elastic spring like quality, like running or hopping, to increase elastic storage capacity.
- About the effects of different loading modalities on fascial and myofascial components. 

"Note that during a conventional movement (A) the fascial elements do not change their length significantly while the muscle fibers clearly change their length. During movement like hopping or jumping however the muscle fibers contract almost isometrically while the fascial elements lengthen and shorten like an elastic yoyo-spring."

I imagine this kind of fascial conditioning will by consequence also effects the elastic quality of fascial components in open chain elastic recoil situations.

Attached Files
.pdf   Training principles for fascial connective tissues_ Scientific foundation and suggested practical applications.pdf (Size: 2.05 MB / Downloads: 3)

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