Muscle Contractions

06 September 2022

One for the gym goers as we explore the differences between muscle contractions.

Concentric Contraction

A concentric contraction is the shortening of muscle fibres during contraction, moving the muscle attachment points closer together. This occurs along the length of the muscle when performing certain movements with resistance from weights. It happens when performing an action which generates tension and force. It is one of the most common types of strength-training activity as it helps to increase strength.

For example, when lifting a heavy weight towards your shoulder during a bicep curl, a concentric contraction of the bicep muscle shortens, tenses and allows the elbow to flex. The heavier the weight, the more force and strength is generated.

Gym goer doing weighted squats in the gym

Eccentric Contraction

An eccentric contraction is the contracting and lengthening of muscle fibres as they are stretched whilst performing an action. The muscle tenses by resisting force, which pulls the attachments away from each other and results in the tissue extending. This is also a great way to strengthen a muscle as it often goes against the flow of gravity.

For example, when you lower a heavy weight in a bicep curl, the biceps contract against the weight but then lengthen and use force and strength to allow control over the movement, particularly in the extension of the elbow, to prevent dropping the weight too quickly. The muscle joints in eccentric contractions are decelerated to allow for extra control of the muscle and joints.

Isometric Contraction

In an isometric contraction there is no change in muscle length, nor is there any movement present even though the muscle fibres are still stimulated. An example of this would be holding a plank, whereby the body is held in one position without the length in muscles changing. Isometrics are ideal exercises for improving muscle stabilisation and endurance.

When we see clients with injuries and muscle and joint dysfunction in our clinic, we use the different types of muscle contraction in various exercises to assist with rehabilitation. What we do is more than just massage!

Could you use a treatment on your muscles and joints?

Author: Cross Massage Therapy