3 Causes of Poor Performing Muscles
3 Causes of Poor Performing Muscles
A common question we hear from clients at AIM is “Why are my muscles performing poorly?” This question usually takes place during a Muscle Activation Techniques™ session. During a MAT™ session, a specialist will perform an assessment to locate any areas where there is a muscle system issue. They then perform specific muscle tests to identify weak muscles. “Weakness” is defined within the MAT™ methodology as the inability of a muscle to produce an efficient contraction. In other words, a weak muscle will be unable to do its job of contracting and this will subsequently result in a failed muscle test. It’s usually after a failed muscle test when a client will ask, “Hey, why is that muscle weak” or “what is making my muscles shut down?” A weak muscle may be caused by one of the 3 issues listed below.
Every muscle has a maximum and minimum threshold that dictates how much force can be placed on the muscle for it to maintain its structural integrity. If the maximum threshold is exceeded severe injury can occur, such as a rupture or tear. Each muscle also has a set-point level, which is the current stress tolerance level based on the muscle’s present physical condition. (Ideally, in a conditioned healthy individual, both the current set-point and the maximum threshold would be the same.) If a muscle is stressed beyond its current set-point tolerance level, but before reaching its maximum threshold, muscle inhibition occurs. Inhibition disrupts the neuromuscular connection resulting in a weak muscle or one that would fail the above mentioned muscle test.
Overuse is one of the ways a muscle would exceed its current set-point level. For example, if you normally log about 7,000 steps/days but during your vacation, you walk 13,500 steps in a single day sightseeing, you may overuse or exceed the tolerance level of the muscles located in your feet and legs. During a MAT™ session, the muscles that were overused would show up as weak, or unable to contract, during the active muscle contract and sustain tests.
Conversely, if a muscle’s minimum threshold level is not met, atrophy and cell death can occur. Shortly before reaching this point, if a muscle does not receive enough activity or movement, muscle inhibition will occur. We see this often in clients who perform little or no exercise. It’s one of the many reasons we encourage our clients to get up every hour from their desks to move and use their muscles. Additionally, disuse can occur at an injury site after a prescribed rest period. For example, if you injured your foot and were placed in a boot for 6 to 8 weeks, while the tissues were healing, the lack of movement may also have caused those muscles to become weak or inhibited. The neuromuscular connection may be compromised and this would show up in a weak muscle test during an MAT™ session. The goal of MAT™ is to improve the neuromuscular connection and raise the set-point level of these muscles so that they can tolerate more thus allowing you to return to activities safely.
The third common cause of poor performing muscles is misuse. Misuse is defined as “to treat badly or abusively” or “to use wrongly or improperly.” (dictionary.com) We see this in three forms at AIM. The first misuse is a trauma or acute accident. For example, while helping a friend move, a piece of furniture falls on your foot. You didn’t overuse or disuse your foot muscles, but the trauma to the tissue will result in muscle inhibition or a weak muscle test.
A second form of misuse can be exercise related. Activities such as foam rolling and deep tissue massage that aggressively compresses, constricts, or distorts muscle tissue can also cause muscle inhibition. Lastly, lifestyle choices can also cause muscle misuse. A poor diet, lack of sleep, increased stress, as well as some drugs or medications can also cause muscle weakness during an MAT™ session.
Curious about how Muscle Activation Techniques™ corrects these poor performing muscles? Look out for our next blog article that will answer that question. If you think you have some inhibited or poor performing muscles see one of our MAT™ Specialist here at AIM or visit www.muscleactivation.com to find a specialist in your area.