This past week I worked on a professional bodybuilder complaining of muscular strain and under development of his left pec.
Upon observation I noted that his pec was both significantly smaller than the right as well as extremely high tone.
To his surprise, rather that finding that his left pec was inhibited, it turned out that it was in fact hypertonic.
This means that it was stuck in a neurological state of perpetual activation.
It is important to understand that just because something is hypertonic and always ‘on’ does not in fact mean that it is strong.
Imagine contracting your bicep as tightly as possible. Now try to sustain that same contraction and try to do a bicep curl.
Nearly impossible, right?
If a muscle is non-functionally contracted, it seriously hampers the ability for it to FUNCTIONALLY contract.
This is often a protective strategy compensating for dysfunction elsewhere.
With this fellow in clinic, his pec had been hypertonic for so long that the other side had reaped the benefit of his training while the left pec lagged behind.
After fixing the hypertonicity, the feeling of strain immediately disappeared and he was able to feel the ‘pump’ that so many lifters seek out.
With some concentrated exercise to build the left pec up again, he can be confident that his training will produce the proper aesthetic results.