In Yoga 216 INfrastructure, we talk about muscles a bunch. And not all aspect of muscle fundamentals, but primarily the fundamental principle of how they create movement. Ready for it?
How Muscles Create Movement
Bones don’t move themselves.
Muscles contract and move the bones.
That might seem obvious, but often the obvious passes by unnoticed, so we wanted to be sure to point it out.
Furthermore, muscles do only one thing: contract.
But, you might be asking, what about stretching? Don’t muscles also stretch?
Technically, no. Muscles can be made to release (which at a certain point creates stretch sensation) in two ways:
- through gravity (passive release depending on the position you’re in) -or-
- through another muscle contracting and causing it to release
We’re interested in the second kind of muscle release —and this brings us to an important fact about muscles.
Muscles work in pairs.
This is an important principle to keep in mind if you’re trying to support joints for healthy movement!
Every joint action in the body has a “do-er” and an “un-doer.”
The DO-er is the muscle or group of muscles that create the action.
The UNDO-er is the muscle of group that releases or undoes the action.
(There are helpers too but we can save that for another time).
A lack of range of motion indicates an imbalance in the muscle pair.
Maybe the do-ers aren’t strong enough. Maybe the undo-ers can’t release completely to let the do-er go its full distance.
This becomes a problem when it creates discomfort, restriction, instability, or pain in a person’s daily movements. Yoga crafted to support clean movement through all joint actions can help!
In a group asana class, teachers don’t have the luxury of figuring out what exactly is going on in each student.
A simple fix is to design a class plan that does both: lengthen what needs to be lengthened and strengthen what needs to be strengthened. This is how we structure our classes at Yoga 216.
So there you have it –a quick and dirty intro to how muscles create movement!