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What is muscle tone and how do we keep it “normal”?

Muscle tone refers to the tension a muscle has while in rest, or the resistance it offers to be passively moved.

Most children with cerebral palsy have problems with muscle tone. The muscles are either too tight or too loose. This usually refers to hypertonia or hypotonia and other disorders of muscle tone including spasticity, dystonia, athetosis, ataxia, etc. 

The mechanisms needed to have a “normal” muscle tone (how it is regulated) is not fully understood and the new information about fascia is offering more variables to consider. 

It is well known that muscle tone regulation depends on a feedback mechanism of some important receptors (sensors) in the muscles that inform the central nervous system (from the spinal cord all the way to the brain). These sensors communicate the change in length of the muscles, meaning if the muscles shorten or lengthen (or “change in shape”, as we say in biotensegrity). The intention of this post is not to give a full physiological explanation about this mechanism, but to navigate the role fascia has in it.**

Watch this 7-minute clip from one of the videos in our CoreFlow Program, where we are explaining in simple language how muscle tone is regulated and the relationship between fascia and the muscle spindle (the main receptor for muscle tone). This will help you understand why it is so important to work on your child’s fascia to relax tight muscles. 

**For the readers in the healthcare field or “body nerds”, please know that we are talking about the muscle spindle and the tone pathways, including the afference (Ia,II sensory fibers) and efferent (alpha and gamma motor neurons) among other mechanisms.  For more detailed information you can check this link. You can also learn more about the new information related to fascia and proprioception in our previous post How we feel our bodies - proprioception

WeFlow´s tip for you!

You can use a soft DIY fascia roller to work on your child’s fascia and keep the fluids moving. We have a free tutorial on how to build the roller, how to use it and where to help relax tight muscles. Access the free tutorial here

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