Sunday, February 7, 2010

Muscle Tone Is A Function of the Nervous System

I was reading a post on and came across an interesting story on muscle tone. The piece reinforces a thought I have about conditioning. Specifically, the role the brain and nervous system plays in getting fit. Muscle tone is a function not just of building muscle mass but as much a function of the nervous system. Muscle tone is an "electrophysiological" phenomenon. Getting stronger is also largely a function of the nervous system. The greater the nerve impulse to a muscle…the stronger it contracts and the greater force that muscle will generate. As a muscle becomes stronger, your nervous system becomes more efficient at sending strong signals to that muscle. Over time, the muscle will have a greater "ionic flow" even at rest…AKA greater "muscle tone".

I had a friend of the family and co-worker suffer a stroke recently. Fortunately for her it was rather mild and she is expected to make a full recovery. Her rehabilitation is what I find really interesting. When she describes her exercises she uses terms like fatigue and straining to get the muscle to do what it needs to do. The stroke occurred recently so the muscles have not broken down or atrophied. What she is experiencing is a weak signal being sent from the brain.

All this makes me realize how important it is to train the brain. If you want to get fit and make gains you need to do your drills as importantly as you need to run the miles. Both reinforce good signaling and help to make you fit.