Monday, August 22, 2011

Spastic Muscles: Victim or Perpetrator?

This is perhaps one of the most counter-intuitive questions I have ever asked...and the answer is almost unanimously the same: "The muscles are the bad guys, therefore we need to attack them with an aggressive campaign of stretching...and if that doesn't work we always have botox". I'm exaggerating somewhat, however the only option families are given is overwhelmingly skewed to these drastic measures. As a professional (or as a parent / patient) it is fundamentally critical to examine all other options and not to simply "refer to my favorite textbook to see what the 'experts' say". The fundamental question is: "Are the muscles victims or perpetrators?" To be precise, are they THE problem or are they a SYMPTOM of a problem. In the overwhelming number of cases, muscle tension is SYMPTOMATIC (in both disorders of movement and posture AND the healthy population, by the way). Therefore, by definition the "treatment" protocol should be focused on the SOURCE of the problem. Unlike a common cold or flu, treating the symptoms leads to dead-ends and will result in future problems down the road.

In disorders of movement and posture like Cerebral Palsy, the muscular tension is a reflection of the profound compressional weakness that exists within the entire structure. For a better explanation of compressional weakness refer to my previous post, but in brief, compressional weakness is the absence of fundamental hydraulic strength which is responsible for support under the forces of gravity as well as the weight of the body itself. Essentially, when this vital component is missing, the muscles are asked to take on "double duty". They are actively solicited to compensate for the lack of compressional (passive postural) strength and therefore must be used to maintain balance...AND they are also called upon to perform the dynamic movement-based functions they are originally designed to do. It is no wonder that movement is so chaotic and uncontrolled...imagine using all of your muscles to maintain your balance AND perform movement at the same time.

Don't worry...I'm getting to the point. A strategic and focused protocol to improve compressional strength will subsequently result in a reduction in general muscular tension and rigidity. Period. Therefore my message is simple: STOP FIGHTING WITH THE VICTIMS! It is perhaps the most instinctive and inuitive thing to do, but history shows quite clearly that doing this is is a dead end street filled with false hope and "irresponsible dreaming".

Some of you may be saying "sounds good, but can it be done?" As the response to my previous post is are worth a thousand words. In that light, I have posted more amazing transformations that are an example of the potential to address muscle spasticity / rigidity at its true source. And remember...working with fascia is far from glamorous. It requires a significant amount of time and effort...but it is well worth it!


Analyzing the Source of Muscle Spasticity


  1. Great summing up of the main points that underpin the Abr treatment. Keep up the good work.


    Robert, parent giving Abr treatment for CP diphlegia to Allan (2)

  2. Great post, Gavin! Adds that much more to understanding spasticity and tone. You are so on target!

  3. Thank you,I could not have summed it up better,I have tried many times to explain what has been happening to my body since my anterior fusion to C5 and C6 in 09,both collapsed onto my spinal cord,leaving me with spastic muscles,daily tasks that I once completed in an hour,now takes me days,the pain and weakness I experience into my neck and arms,complied with my weak tight legs,life is a test of one's mental strength that's for sure.

  4. Denise, I'm glad that it resonated well with you. Indeed, it is difficult to rationalize sometimes...and it is somewhat counter-inuitive to look "elsewhere" when muscles are tight / spastic. However once you understand the fact that muscles typically REFLECT underlying problems, it greatly enhances your ability to either take care of it yourself or seek the appropriate treatment protocol. For sure it is a test of mental strength, but understanding and insight certainly contribute to reducing the challenge. Cheers!