Muscle Analysis System
To appreciate what this continuum actually means, you have to understand some of the more complex, fundamental (and boring!) characteristics of how muscles work. First off though, realize that one of the best ways to determine if a muscle is deficient or not able to shorten and produce force efficiently is to assess movement and range-of-motion (ROM) on one side of the body, and then compare it to the exact same movement on the other side. Assuming the structure is probably the same between the right and left sides of someone’s body, any differences or limitations in motion most likely stem from muscles. And as obvious as this may be to many, the key is in understanding WHY muscles and motion become limited. Most people are going to be presented with this information and only think about how something is tight and needs to be loosened up. Furthermore, they may not even care unless it is causing a sensation of “tightness” or discomfort.
However, you need to realize that these limits, even if they are really small and seem insignificant, actually give us information relating to how efficiently a muscle is shortening and contracting, which is essentially its primary function. Think about it. Muscles shorten and produce force, which allows for movement to occur; thus, the inability of a muscle to shorten would inhibit movement. So, in essence, a ROM limitation reflects the inability of a muscle to shorten and produce force, which can be interpreted as muscle weakness. Therefore, a muscle’s ability to shorten is synonymous with its overall function. **If this concept makes sense to you and want a more advanced interpretation, CLICK HERE to see the ‘Muscle Shorten/Function Continuum.
What kind of “weakness” are you referring to?
Most people associate muscle strength and weakness with how much weight they can lift, but weakness doesn’t always relate to this type of deficit. This is particularly true of the weakness associated with these muscle tests as they not only emphasize a muscle from a mechanical (i.e. structural) standpoint, but allow for neurological emphasis as well. This is unique to all other types of muscle testing as each muscle or group of muscles are tested in a shortened position, which emphasizes specific characteristics that relate to the neurological component. This concept is extremely important because in order for a muscle to contract/shorten, it has to receive a “go” signal from the brain/spinal cord allowing them to do so. Overtime, this “go” signal can become sluggish, delayed, or even blocked. If this occurs, it will affect the muscle in a similar fashion.
How do we test this theory?
We simply test the muscle in a shortened position of emphasis and we will find that the side of limitation is actually much weaker than the other side. This is often brushed off as no big deal, however, these deficits directly relate to performance and long-term health.
How does this type of weakness occur?
In simple terms, gravity never quits. As long as we are breathing, there will be some type of external force present on our body. Add this to the countless other activities or sports we do or play on a daily basis and you start to realize that the body, especially the muscular system, works pretty hard! To make matters worse, in order for us to stand-up and move, much less run a marathon or swing a baseball bat, muscles constantly have to resist being lengthened. Keep in mind that a muscle’s sole purpose is to shorten and produce tension; this is how we are able to move each day throughout space. Lengthening of a muscle only occurs as the result of another muscle being shortened and when force is applied, this action actually puts much greater stress/strain on the muscle than if it were being shortened. In light of this, muscle(s) will start to weaken and break down.
Why is this type of weakness so vital to performance and health?
Like anything, this concept is relative to who you are and whatever your circumstances may be. However, tightness, pain, and decreased performance are regularly associated with some type of muscular deficiency, and as stated previously, this deficiency often relates to a weak “go” signal. Each muscle relies on efficient communication from the Central Nervous System in order for it to function well. If this communication is diminished or compromised, the body will be forced to compensate and often tighten-up as a result. If not identified, these patterns will continue to progress and could eventually show up as joint/muscle pain. Furthermore, exposure to extremely explosive movements in sport, which is the norm for most rotational or overhead athletes, will exponentially magnify this effect.
Well how do I fix it?
Because this type of weakness is different than overall muscle strength, lifting weights and doing typical strengthening exercises aren’t going to help. Just like anything else in exercise, you have to do things that are specific to the results you want. If you want more endurance, you lift less weight for more reps; if you want to gain more mass, you lift more weight for less reps. With this in mind, if you want to strengthen a weak “go” signal, you need to do very specific things that target the characteristics you wish to strengthen. Muscle Activation Techniques, combined with our in-house training system, provide the absolute best process to target and strengthen these deficits, thus making your muscles work better.
What happens if I ignore it?
As you read previously, if something is weak, it’s much safer for the body to work around it in order to avoid vulnerability and injury. This creates a problem because most sports and functional activities in life consist of very global movements that allow for your body to compensate if necessary. As this is a great short-term solution, this tends to cause decreased performance, discomfort, and sometimes injury if you push yourself too hard enough under the right set of circumstances. In light of this, it becomes nearly impossible to locate, much less fix, specific weakness during general, global movements. As time goes on and the weakness stays unidentified, patterns become more engrained and the body gets comfortable calling upon certain muscles to perform daily tasks. As a result, the ‘force threshold’ of the weaker fibers will continue to decrease, making them increasingly more unlikely to be incorporated. Furthermore, loading the body with weight (i.e. weight training) will exponentially magnify this effect. In essence, the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker. This is a good short-term mechanism by the body, but really wreaks havoc in regards to muscle and joint health. I.T.S Baseball will not only help you identify these weaknesses, but ITS Baseball provides you with an efficient solution to fix them as well.