Muscle Firing Pattern

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Muscle Firing pattern

Muscle firing pattern is the sequence in which muscle should get activated to complete an action or movement.

Whenever we move a joint, is not just 1 muscle to do that action there are multiple numbers of muscles that allow the action to happen, and other multiple numbers of muscles counterbalance that action.

So, the muscles that control the action are called agonist muscles and the antagonist are the muscles that counterbalance that action. The antagonists are usually the muscles that do the opposite action to the one played.

Said so we have also to introduce another term, that in the massage industry is known as synergetic muscles.

Synergetic muscles work together to make allow a joint to complete an action.

But let’s look into an example.

Leg extension firing pattern.

Leg extension is controlled by the synergetic muscle:

  1. gluteus max (GM)
  2. hamstring (HM
  3. erectors spine (Esp o) (opposite side of the leg)
  4. erectors spine (Esp s) (same side of the leg)

The antagonist in the leg extensions are the Quadriceps.

So, let’s focus on the agonist of this action for now.

If the GM is weak or inactive, when we go for leg extension the Hm gets overpowered. Leg Extension Firing Pattern

As the Hm gets overpowered the ES starts firing too early to stabilize the pelvis abandoned from the weakness of the gluteus.

Moving forward with this unbalance, the ES on the same side could end up to start being the first muscle that gets fired for doing the action of leg extension when it should be the last one.

And this could happen because the Esp o is holding the body still to get the action done.

Lower back pain or hamstring tear can be often a consequence of these unbalances.

Lower back pain can happen when the firing pattern is like:

  • 1st Eroctos Spine (opposite or same side)
  • 2nd Hamstring
  • 3rd Gluteus Max (because if weak or inactive)

Hamstring tear can happen when the firing pattern is like:

  • 1st) Hamstring
  • 2nd) Eroctos Spine (opposite or same side)
  • 3rd) Gluteus Max (because if weak or inactive)

But nothing is lost, and the firing pattern can be reorganised.

For doing that we have to look into exercises for firing pattern reestablishment.

For the leg extension, for example, the exercises would be:

  • Lying in a prone position (face down)
  • Tugged the toes under the feet
  • Squeeze the gluteus one against the other
  • With the gluteus, squeeze and extend the knee
  • Still with the gluteus squeezed to release the knee
  • The final step, release the gluteus.

Repeat 30 times for 6 weeks every day.

To don’t fall back into an incorrect firing pattern, make sure to strengthen the gluteus.

Massage would help to release the trigger point in the GM.

Thanks to the release of trigger points the muscle can start to be trained to get stronger.

Are you struggling with pain and or body ache? Book now your next massage appointment, at Melbourne Massage and Treatment home-based clinic.

Also, massage can help in fastening the process of firing pattern reestablishment, by reducing tension in the hamstring and or reducing pain in the lower back by flashing out the tensions that have been accumulated over time.


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