Home > Blog > Muscles - Our Natural Shock Absorbers And Injury Preventers

Muscles - Our Natural Shock Absorbers And Injury Preventers

Our muscles have a few functions, and most of the time, our muscles are known for helping us move.

However, they also have less known functions, which are:

  1. "holding" our skeletal/bones together
  2. shock absorber/injury preventers (which is what this article is all about)

Muscles As Natural Shock Absorbers

It easy to miss this special function of muscles, because when one thinks about shock absorption, it's easy to think of just cushions and bouncy stuff.

Muscles, on the other hand, don't really do either of those...or do they? Muscles are fascinating stuff, and part of a bigger ecosystem of

  • "hardware" - bones
  • "software" - joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles
  • and other supporting structures such as being covered by skin etc, but for the sake of simplicity, we'll just focus on hardware and software

Basic understanding:

  1. bones are the main structure of the body
  2. muscles helps our body move by contracting and moving joints/parts

We can "exert/cause" force to move or throw a ball, eg say we have a basketball in our hands, and we want to pass to a friendly ally

  1. we see and locate where they are
  2. we then pass the ball to them by directly throwing a pass to them by moving our body (series of muscle movements and eye-hand coordination)

And in return, to catch the ball, the receiving person has to:

  1. see where the ball is headed
  2. stretch out their hands to reach and catch the ball
  3. slow the movement of the ball.

In essence, the receiving person just absorbed and defrayed the force of the pass. You see, muscles absorb shock by working in pairs to move our body and joints, and by contracting, they can slow a joint moving in the opposite direction, which absorbs and dissipates force.

Some examples of how we absorb shock:

  • when we catch a falling object eg book, eggs
  • when we play ball and catch the ball that is thrown at us/intercept

Our bodies and mind and reflexes are fascinatingly smart enough to be able to judge the

  1. weight
  2. speed
  3. force

of the contraction required to slow the ball/object/weight just right.

If it's too fast or too hard, your hands wont be able to bend enough to absorb the shock (imagine if you try to catch the ball with arms full extended at shoulders, elbows and wrists).

Of course, when/if your muscles are tight, weak or with poor coordination, their ability to absorb shock is also very limited. Tight muscles have very limited contracting range/limits because they're already shortened and tightened.

It's basically physics:

  • when you have more time to absorb the shock, you have more reflex and reaction time
  • when you have more time, you can dissipate the force and shock better over time eg if you're tasked to carry 100 kg of bricks, having 10 hours is much easier than 1 hour.
  • if your muscles are stronger, you can move these bricks faster
  • if you're more coordinated, again, you can move these bricks faster

To keep your muscles healthy, we recommend that you:

  • Exercise regularly. Clinical pilates is great to strengthen and improve your core strength and stability
  • Stretch regularly to ensure that you muscles and joints are flexible. More flexibility = more ability to absorb shock and move adequately.
  • Regular deep tissue release sessions to loosen tight muscles.