Let's revise the 19 major points to consider for our skeleton muscles and particularly the muscular movements of bones:
1. Skeleton Muscles generate Force and produce Movement only by contracting or pulling on Body Parts.
2. Individual Muscles can only pull; they cannot push.
3. Skeleton Muscles are joined to bone by tough connective tissue called tendons.
4. Tendons attach muscle to bone; the origin is the more stationary bone, the insertion is the more movable bone.
5. Tendons are attached in such a way that they pull on the Bones and make them work like levers. The movements of the Muscles and Joints enable the Bones to act as levers.
6. The Joint functions as a fulcrum (The fixed point around which the lever moves) and the Muscles provide the Force to move the Lever.
7. Usually there several Muscles surrounding each Joint that pull in different directions.
8. Most skeletal muscles work in pairs.
9. When one Muscle or set of Muscles contracts, the other relaxes.
10. The Muscles of the upper arm are a good example of this dual action: antagonistic muscles. Flexor, a muscle that bends a joint. Extensor, a muscle that straightens a joint.
A. When the Biceps Muscle (on the front of the upper arm, Flexor) contracts, it bends or flexes the elbow joint.
B. When the Triceps Muscle (on the back of the upper arm, Extensor) contracts, it opens, or extends, the elbow joint.
C. A controlled movement requires contraction by both muscles.
11. Antagonist muscles are opponents, muscles which have opposing or opposite functions. A muscle pulls when it contracts, but exerts no force when it relaxes and cannot push. When one muscle pulls a bone in one direction, another muscle is needed to pull the bone in the other direction.
12. Synergistic muscles are those with the same function, or those that work together to perform a particular function. They also stabilize a joint to make a more precise movement possible.
13. A normal characteristic of all Skeleton Muscles is that they remain in a state of partial contraction.
14. At any given time, some Muscles are being Stimulated while other are not. This causes a tightened, or firmed, Muscle and is known as muscle tone.
15. Muscle Tone is responsible for keeping the back and legs straight and the head upright even when you are relaxed.
16. Exercise is the key to maintain good muscle tone within your body.
17. Muscles that are exercised regularly stay firm and increase in size by adding more materials to the inside of muscle fibers.
18. Muscle fatigue is a Physiological Inability of a muscle to contract. Muscle fatigue is a result of a relative depletion of ATP. When ATP is absent, a state of continuous contraction occurs. This causes severe muscle cramps.
19. Oxygen debt is a temporary Lack of Oxygen. As we discussed previously, this occurs Muscles will switch from the normal Aerobic Respiration to a form of Anaerobic Respiration called Lactic Acid Fermentation. As the oxygen becomes depleted, the muscle cells begin to switch. Oxygen debt leads to the accumulation of Metabolic Waste (Lactic Acid) in the muscle fibers, resulting in muscle fatigue, pain, and even cramps. Eventually, the lactic acid diffuses into the blood and is transported to the Liver. So if you ever experienced Soreness after prolong exercise, it may have been caused by Oxygen Debt - your body could not provide your Muscles the Oxygen they needed to function properly.
Now back to Zhan zhuang exercise: our research showed us that bending angle is exercising Flexors (muscles that bend a joint) and mental activity is exercising Extensors (muscles that straighten a joint).
During Zhan Zhuang exercise, by setting bending angles, through the control of cerebral cortex and by maintaining the posture you can involve your whole body's flexors into a precise and determined amount of physical effort: this flexor training is recommended for medical treatment and health preservation.
But in Zhan zhuang exercise you can also use contraction/ relaxation movements with mental activity to train extensors, it is called also extensor training or mental training of resting muscles. This special physical training is not very easy to understand especially in the beginning of your practice, after time spent to experiment by yourself all internal changes occurring with ZZ you will then gradually understand it. In your ZZ training program you can dedicate separate time for flexor training and extensor training or practice both simultaneously.
You can practice them with local group of muscles or with whole body muscles.
When you will be able to reach a high level of training, all your muscles/tendons will be contracting like one, at that time you will be able to issue an explosive whole body power which is particularly important in combat. By better control of muscles contraction/relaxation process, you will be able to improve your general muscle tone which consolidate the explosive whole body power discussed previously but also much more suppleness during decisive attacks.
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