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Muscle Strength & Tone

Strength training can protect you from chronic diseases like inflammation. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, it can also reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes by up to 17%.

The study found that approximately 30 to 60 minutes of muscle-strengthening activities contributed to the lower risk overall, while the diabetes risk sharply decreased until strength training hit the hour mark when it then began gradually decreasing. Study after study has shown the benefit of muscle strength training for both chronic medical conditions and injuries.

Are muscle tone and muscle strength the same?

The central nervous system controls muscle tone – the minimal resistance to passive (involuntary) movement. A person’s voluntary motions contribute to muscle strength – the maximum resistance to voluntary movement.

Strength training involves voluntary muscle movement whether working out alone or with the help of a trainer or a physical therapist. Every muscle movement is caused by contractions within the muscle. Even resting muscles have contractions, but not enough to cause noticeable muscle movement.

Muscular contractions cause tightening, shortening or lengthening of our muscles; and those contractions help hold our bodies upright whether we are sitting or standing. This is called muscle tone. Muscle tone isn’t the same as muscle strength, although the terms are often used interchangeably in media.

It is those changes in muscle tone that contribute to how much movement our bodies can achieve, our muscular control, and how quickly we can move.

Types of Muscle Contractions


During this contraction, a muscle changes length, and contraction speed varies throughout the force. An example: dumbbell curls where the muscle shortens as an arm is flexed and the muscle lengthens as the arm is lowered into the starting position.

Concentric contractions are the most common contractions used in sports and in daily life. In fact, our muscles keep our skeletal system balanced and in check. Loss and gain of muscle tone can affect activities of daily living and quality of life.


Here, there is no change in muscle length, and there is a steady contraction speed throughout the force. An example: gripping a badminton or tennis racket allows steadiness in holding the racket.


This is when a muscle changes length when it contracts, and contraction speed is constant through force. An example: swimming the breaststroke uses the water as a steady resistance against muscles.

High and Low Muscle Tone

Having too many muscle contractions or too few can affect how muscles work. Too many contractions is called hypertonia. Too few contractions is called hypotonia.

Both high and low muscle tone impact muscle strength and benefit from physiotherapy in order to regain mobility and to restore function. This reduces pain levels caused by muscles that are too rigid or too flaccid. Physiotherapy also helps prevent further muscular deterioration that can result in further injury and lowered quality of life.

Hypertonia: High Muscle Tone

Hypertonicity is an increase in muscle contractions causing high muscle tone. Hypertonia is characterized by rigid, stiff limbs, difficult movement, muscle spasms and contractures.

Hypotonia: Low Muscle Tone

Hypotonicity is a decrease in muscle contractions causing low muscle tone. Hypotonia is characterized by “floppy” limbs and a lack of body stability that reduces the body’s ability to function.

What are the benefits of physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy, known as physical therapy or PT, works to strengthen muscles affected by chronic illness, injury, and high or low muscle tone. Physical therapists work with patients to strengthen muscles by working them both passively and actively to increase range of motion.

Muscle Strengthening Rehabilitation Methods

Physical therapists utilize rehabilitative methods through regular programs of:

  • Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) uses electrical impulses to stimulate muscles.
  • Massage includes deep tissue massage for both low tone and high muscle tone.
  • Core strengthening increases spinal and pelvic stability.

Rehabilitation isn’t a one-off visit, but a regular, consistent program of exercise and therapy that often lasts for weeks for maximum results. Resistance training for strengthening muscle tone includes exercising against gravity, using resistance bands and weights, and water therapy.

Some Benefits of Muscle Strengthening

Patients with sports injuries or chronic illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s Disease, and diabetes can all benefit from muscle strengthening through physiotherapy. Specific benefits include:

  • Improving muscle strength which improves both function and lessens injury risk.
  • Using less energy since muscles work more efficiently.
  • Managing low or high muscle tone to improve quality of movement.

Benefits emanating from strengthening muscles and tone through physical therapy are as unique as each patient’s situation.

Strength Training at Brooks Rehabilitation

There are many options for regaining muscle tone and strength at Brooks Rehabilitation. Our interdisciplinary team of physicians, therapists and nurses work together to evaluate your specific strength training needs before embarking on a plan of treatment.

Contact us to evaluate your unique physical therapy and strength training needs.

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