Muscle tone: the resting tension in a muscle. It’s not just about buff, cut, or 6-pack abs. Tone comes from effort, preparing muscles so we are ready to respond without delay.
Run, shoot, pass, dribble, score. Repeat and repeat, calling on the same muscles to do all the work. Do the same the next day, next practice, next game. It seems a reasonable plan for training and improvement. Just keep doing it until we get it right, right?
Well, no. Because each movement is not just the responsibility of one muscle. Oh, there is one muscle in charge; we call that the prime mover. That’s the muscle the gets strengthened when we do it over and over. But there are other team members here. There are the agonists, the helping muscles: smaller role but their additive effect is essential. Then there is the antagonist, the opposing muscle: whose job it is to slow or stop the motion. Finally, there are the stabilizers: the muscles that keep the movement aligned.
So, when we repeat and repeat, the strong get stronger but the weak get weaker. They become less and less able to play their role and balance the movement. This does not stem from an internal ranking system or superiority of performance. They are designed this way with different roles, different contributions, some larger, some smaller, some one direction, some another. There’s a division of labor, by design. We get into trouble when we favor one over the other. Neglect the weak and the strong suffer.
Amazing how even our bodies are designed for community. Favoritism is discouraged. Honoring each for its contribution based on its giftedness is wise. And the weakest and smallest need special attention and special protection. Neglecting these, letting the prime mover rule the roost and demand all the attention disrupts the balance. It’s a recipe for injury for the body.
When small roles are considered unimportant and small contributors considered insignificant, we deny our design. We fall into patterns of disparity, the strong feeling superior, the weak feeling dismissed. Closing this gap is essential for health. Not to bring each muscle into equal strength – that would be disaster for movement. Not to bring each muscle into equal leadership – that would freeze us in our tracks. Just to offer each its due. To train each up into its full potential and to activate it in the way that exerts just the right force at just-right speed in just-right direction with just-right balance, without deviating from the appointed pattern.
Only community can accomplish this. Honored community which recognizes the contribution of each in its proper proportion, according to its own design. We deny this at our own peril.
How cool of God to offer us this lesson in our bodies so we can live it out in His.