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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Stumbling Block to Optimal Mobility

by Judy Soborowicz, Active Health Chiropractic

Mobility impacts every aspect of life and remains one of the primary principles of chiropractic health science. According to the National Institute of Health, “older adults who lose their mobility are less likely to remain living at home; have higher rates of disease, disability, hospitalization, and death; and have poorer quality of life.” Balance, strength, and mobility throughout a lifetime rely on an integrated interdependence between healthy nerve system, muscular system, and joint health. Understanding the beneficial aspects of maintaining optimal mobility through the integration of these complex systems is essential to overall wellness.

Movement and mobility require stabilization of our frame, and in order for our muscles to perform properly they, require both tone and strength. Many people think tone and strength are essentially the same thing: they sound similar, but there is a really big difference between strength and tone. Muscle strength is the amount of force muscles exert against resistance, whereas muscle tone is the level of tension in muscles when they are at rest—think active or passive nerve action. Muscle tone is passive because the degree of muscle tone is directly regulated and maintained by specific automatic centers of the nerve system.

Understanding the difference between muscle tone and strength is helpful to better prevent the cause of many injuries, and it is the core stumbling block of many mobility issues in people of all ages. Mobility is not solely related to a strength problem. Often muscles that appear weak are unexpectedly strong when presented with an active load. The challenge can be with the rapid responsiveness of the muscle, which is diminished when the tone falls too low. When resting muscles become too relaxed, it is noticeably more difficult to ‘spring’ into action quickly, such as what is required to maintain healthy stability and mobility.

We often think of stability problems in elderly, but many athletes, toddlers and young children suffer from low muscle tone, which has direct consequences to proper brain development. Just as the nerve system is actively eliciting a muscle movement in response to load, it simultaneously passively maintains tone and regulates the degree of tone necessary for stabilization.

Trauma such as slips, falls, auto accidents, toxin exposure, and stress can cause interference to the nerve system which regulates and maintains muscle tone and muscle strength. Tone and strength impact each other. Lifting weight and exercising successfully strengthen muscles and can improve tone. Persistent lack of tone can present as a hip drop while walking, rotation of the pelvis while squatting, imbalance with a lunge, or a weakness on one side of the body with a multitude of movements. Low tone may be the cause of subtle instability, which leads to injuries such as tendonitis, sprain, muscle strain, or pain.

Gentle adjustments to the spine help the nerve system to restore communication, and they are key to optimal coordination of strength and tone. Chiropractic is focused on the integration, global interdependence, and innate healing ability of our whole being.


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