Muscles
“ The Living Force “ within all of us



Muscles cover our entire bodies as well as forming vital Internal Organs. There are approximately 400 muscles in the Body and these can be broken down into 3 different types,

  • Smooth.
  • These are internal organs such as the Stomach, Arteries, etc…and are Involuntary (you have no control over them).

  • Cardiac
  • These are what make up your Heart and pumps blood around your Body and are Involuntary.

  • Striated
  • Sometimes called “Skeletal” and are attached to bone via tendons. They respond to stimuli from the brain and are therefore known as Voluntary. Their function is to produce force, which can provide work and motion. These operate in pairs and as one is contracted (shortened) and is called the Agonist, the opposing will lengthen and is called the Antagonist.



    So as the famous "Star Wars" quote commands,

    ”Use the Force”.



    Their Characteristics are,

  • Excitability.
  • Will receive and respond to Stimuli.

  • Contractibility.
  • Contracts (shortens) when stimulated and thus can perform work.

  • Extensibility
  • Because they operate in pairs it is necessary for them to have the ability to lengthen and extend.

  • Elasticity.
  • It has the ability to conform back to its original shape.

    The following is a very important “Fact” and you must understand this, to understand Exercise Programming.

    Muscles only Pull, they do not Push.

    Let me repeat this,

    Muscles only Pull, they do not Push.

    For an example let’s look at the Upper Arm, the Biceps and Triceps. The Bicep will Pull the Forearm towards the Shoulder and plays no role in straightening the Arm. It is the Tricep that Pulls the Forearm back to a straight or extended position.

    This is probably pretty straightforward but when you look at them from an Exercise perspective you have to take another force into account and that is the Force of Gravity. This makes the whole process that bit more complicated.

    Lets take the same example and look at it this time with a Resistance or Load used. The Bicep works the same way by contracting and shortening and bringing the Forearm up towards the Shoulder, this is termed a “Concentric Contraction”. But when straightening the Arm or lowering the Resistance the Tricep plays no role, it is the Bicep again, slowly lowering the Forearm against gravity in what is termed an “Eccentric Contraction”. It lengthens under Stimuli and acts as a slowing or braking mechanism.

    Now lets look at another example using the same Elbow joint, this time we will look at the Bicep and Tricep role while performing a Push-up. The major Body group being used is the Chest (Pectorals) and the Shoulders (Deltoids) and the Triceps. The action at the Elbow joint is the same but when the Body is lowered the Tricep works through an Eccentric Contraction and when pushing up from the floor they are being used in a Concentric Contraction and the Bicep plays no role.

    It is paramount that you understand this Fact because once you do, you will be able to look at an Exercise and correctly see which Muscles are being used and how they are being Contracted.

    WHAT ARE ORIGINS AND INSERTIONS.

    Our Muscles are attached to our bones at specific points called Origins and Insertions. The Origin being the point at which the attachment is on a stationary point of a particular bone. The insertion on the other hand, is attached to another bone (across a joint) and when it is Contracted (shortened) the angle across the joint is lessened and movement takes place.

    Another important "Fact" is that all Skeletal Muscles pass over a Skeletal joint, if they didn’t, Movement would not be possible.

    We all have the same points of Origins and Insertions, unless you have been surgically modified. And therefore there is no need for what could be titled “Gender Specific Exercises”. I will concede that the majority of Males are stronger than their Female counterparts, but it is not necessary to suggest that different Exercises will produce different results in the two genders. Therefore all the Exercises on this site are recommended for all to use and when performed correctly will gain results.


    WHAT ARE MUSCLE FIBERS?

    Skeletal Muscles are also separated into two Fiber types,

  • Slow Twitch Fiber.
  • This refers to the potential to have an Endurance capacity.

  • Fast Twitch Fiber.
  • This refers to the potential to have greater Strength.

    We do not have the same proportion of these two Fiber characteristics, each of us is different and that is why we are all not Strong Men or Long Distance Marathon Runners. When you know what major Fiber type you possess, you can then see which activity best suits your abilities.


    WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM "RANGE OF MOTION"?

    Range of Motion or R.O.M is the term given to describe the length of movement around a joint in the body. It is recommended that when Exercising, a Muscle be worked through its entire movement that is allowed by the joint in question.

    Sometimes injury or Arthritis can restrict the movement of a joint and therefore play a role in decreasing the ability of the Muscle to fully Contract and Expand.

    Stretching Exercises and Flexibility play a major role in the ability of the body to increase its R.O.M. I recommend that Stretching be performed as part of a Warm-up and Cool-down when doing a Workout or Exercise Session.

    Please note, that when doing Stretches as part of a Warm-up, care should be taken not to place too much stress on the Muscles, Tendons and Ligaments (connect bone to bone).


    YOUR CHOICES OF STRETCHING TECHNIQUES. LEARN WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU.

    There are four Techniques and they are,

  • Static Stretching.
  • Also referred to as Passive Stretching, this involves the gradual lengthening of a Muscle, were a stretch is felt and it is then held in this position for a certain amount of time (30 – 60 seconds). If any discomfort of pain is felt the stretch should be reduced (eased off). This type of stretching is recommended because there are no sudden movements and does not provoke a stretch reflex.

  • Slow Movement.
  • Also referred to as R.O.M Stretching, this type of stretching is recommended in a Warm-up as it involves rhythmic movement that are going to be Exercised. They are easy, repetitive movements that mimic the type experienced in the Workout or Exercise Session.

  • Ballistic Stretching.
  • This is where the Muscle is stretched to its full R.O.M and then is over-stretched by bouncing. This Technique is not recommended as it has been known to result in Muscular Damage.

    There is a mechanism in place that if it is stretched too far a “Stretch Reflex” over-rides and sends a message to the Muscle to contract and reduce the chance of an injury or tearing. This reaction is in proportion to the amount of stretch, therefore if the force or length of stretch is great, so will the reflex action be great, this increases the likelihood of injury.

  • PNF Stretching.
  • This stands for “Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation” and involves the use of a partner. Basically you perform a Static Stretch (15 – 30 sec) and your partner then holds the limb or body part in that fixed position and you then Contract against your partner for a short period of time (3 – 6 sec). The Static Stretch is repeated, but this time with the assistance of your partner the Stretch is a little further. I would only recommend is type of Stretching for the well conditioned and flexible among us.

    Static Stretching is the best technique for your requirements.

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    THE IMPORTANT POINTS THAT YOU NEED TO REMEMBER ABOUT MUSCLES ARE,

  • That they “Pull” on their point of Insertion and do not Push.
  • They are placed across Skeletal joints to facilitate Movement.
  • Have the capacity to move in both, Concentric and Eccentric Contractions.
  • Are Voluntary and Involuntary.
  • to be Exercised correctly, need to be placed through their full R.O.M.
  • They help you Move, they help you Eat, and they Pump your Blood. They are the major reason why we can function. Take great Care of them, Exercise them, Massage them and give them plenty of Rest.

    Love them and they will take care of you too.


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