Rodney McBride

More on Palpatory Hypertonicity

More on Palpatory Hypertonicity

In my blog Hypertonic vs Normotonic vs Hypotonic (see May 5th) I talked about the difference between these three proprioceptive (sense) states and how being in a normotonic state is optimal to good health. In defining hypertonic I mentioned that there are two kinds of hypertonicity. I want to elaborate on this difference some more. 

When I am working with clients and I comment on hypertonicity during the session I am referring to the neurological problem and not the palpatory hypertonic version of hypertonicity 95% of the time. The reason being is that when finding and correcting an area of the body that is not functional the issue always manifests itself first in the Nervous System (NS) before physical discomfort/pain sets in. 

Before you do anything the motor nerve that innervates the muscle/s you need for action has to send a nerve impulse to the muscle fibers to contract if any movement is going to be performed. Nerve fires, muscle contracts, movement is initiated. This is infinite and continuous. 
But how you use your body during the course of the day everyday for weeks, months and even years can affect the frequency and rate of nerve firing. 

For example, someone who is standing on their feet all day will have a high degree of nerve firing in the back, hips and legs to keep their body upright. If this PATTERN is stressful and constant the nerves that innervate these muscles can over fire to high due to the incessant demand imposed on them. These nerves become hypertonic not palpatory hypertonic. They won't tone down ever because the nerves have been trained to be alert all the time. 

This is why people will complain about their muscles hurting or being sore. They are not wrong to perceive this. The nerve is so overworked and won't shut off that the muscle/s itself is physically overworked. The muscle to the touch feels tight, dense and stiff. But massage won't fix a hypertonic muscle. If the matter started out as a nerve dysfunction and it is the nerve that needs to be corrected how can you massage out the NS? The answer is you can't.

Massage will provide relief to the palpatory hypertonicity of physical muscle (muscle fibers, fascia, fluid). A sore and tired muscle is a toxic muscle and toxins need to move freely out of cells and be disposed of in the proper manner. Fresh nutrients need to replenish spent nutrients for the cell to function properly. Blood and lymph is the medium in which this happens. 

This is why someone will say that they feel better after being massaged because the massage has rehydrated the area by moving toxins out and nutrients in. This can give the false impression that the nerve has also been corrected when in fact it is still dysfunctional. It is just a matter of time before discomfort returns again. 

So I make right all hypertonic muscles I find with bodywork. And if these same muscles became palpatory hypertonic also due to chronic trouble I will use massage to stimulate blood flow for extra support. Physiology first, anatomy second.


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