All muscle tissue has qualities of swinging into engagement, of pulling in closer, and of binding before letting go. These qualities are present in the entire musculature and in every bundle and every thread of muscle.
Engage, slide, bind, release. Which qualities are easiest for you? Do you embody them in equal measure? As you listen to this information, can you engage with it actively and but then also let it go?
Each muscle is designed (by the way its nerve supply is wired) to consistently engage from one end and to sequence engagement toward the other end, setting up a wave or current of contraction. The direction of current is not affected by whether the muscle is shortening or lengthening.
The owners of muscles often don’t use them as designed, and muscle currents can get reversed.
Ideally, integrative muscles current inward toward the spine and head. Muscles of articulation current outward from our core into space. Bringing these opposing currents into balance creates ease of movement.
For inner muscle tone to stay springy, outer musculature must aim outward.
Muscles come in layers.
The deeper layers are simpler and less conscious.
The deeper layers of muscles generally contribute more to balance and integration, the more superficial layers more to movement through space. Deeper muscles usually cross fewer joints. More superficial muscles span across more joints.
Muscle evolution seems to proceed by adding new layers of muscles on top of old layers. The older layers, once used for movement, often become stabilizers for new more superficial muscles. Movement generally gets more complex as evolution proceeds.
Individual development sequences from support into movement, from deep to superficial, from the head to the periphery. Because humans are neotenous, development continues throughout life. Most of us never reach full articulation of our potential.
The muscles with the most articulation and nerve supply are at the furthest periphery of the body, in the
face, the hands and the feet.
Muscles have personality and direction. Changing how you use them can change your personality. It is a choice to enter a new path.
Around any joint, the contraction of a muscle on one side is modulated by a restraining muscle on the opposite side. Every such pair of muscles has a range of movement over which it is most effective. As it reaches the limits of that range, other muscle pairs usually take over.
Coordination is learning to use each muscle pair for what it is best at, transferring action from one muscle pair to another at just the right time. The timing of muscle use is set by tension receptors in tendons, joints and muscles.
For action to be smooth, muscles must cooperate to accelerate into movement and decelerate out of it.
Efficient muscle use always takes maximum advantage of gravity. Wasted effort mostly aims downward, duplicating what gravity will do anyway.
Muscles inform the nervous system. If we try to understand them from our brains, we can get deeply confused. The answers aren’t in the brain, they are in the movement. The brain’s job is only to notice movement and decide what to do. It doesn’t have to hold the information that is in the muscles.
Muscle release is a learned activity and it is not the same as collapse or even as passive stretching. It is learning how to gracefully let go of action. It is just as important as learning how to engage in action.
Too much motor learning is about what needs to be done. Not enough is about what needs to be undone.
Most problems we create are results of overdoing.
©Erik Bendix, 2010