Postural muscles v movement muscles

Postural muscles v movement muscles

Fascia aficionado, Tracey Mellor has been one of our most active affiliates since our chance meeting at the end of a Fascial Fitness workshop last year. She spotted the Buttafly on my mat, asked what it was for and enthusiastically requested a full demonstration. In this post, Tracey and I demonstrate how the Buttafly works with Postural muscles and movement muscles

An experienced yoga and Pilates teacher Tracey was amazed at how quickly the Buttafly Effect took place,  especially considering we had just done a full hour and a half of Fascial Fitness. I will always remember her cooing, “Ooo, I can feel my fascia re-hydrating…”  Now that’s someone with heightened somatic awareness!

After months of juggling dates we finally managed to set aside a day in the glorious setting of the South Downs. It was a meeting of engineers’ minds. We hardly paused for breath as we shared our understanding and experience of functional anatomy and health.

We are both passionate about efficiency and it’s why I love this photo of Tracey to the right.

Postural muscles

Optimal Alignment with the Buttafly

Tracey is using the Buttafly to support her pelvis in neutral so that her spine automatically comes into its optimal alignmentby this, I mean a spine that has its natural curves in place. The alignment is then held by her postural muscles.

Types of muscles

Broadly speaking, the muscles of the musculoskeletal system can be divided into two groups:

1. Postural muscles

These muscles are designed to sustain  posture and balance in the gravity field:

  • Predominantly made up of slow twitch fibres
  • Deeply placed in the body
  • Slow to fire but also slow to fatigue
  • Prone to becoming short and tight

2. Movement or phasic muscles

These muscles are for movement:

  • Predominantly made up of fast-twitch fibres
  • More superficially placed in the body
  • Designed to generate short bursts of strength or speed activity
  • Fatigue quickly
  • Prone to becoming stretched and weak

Postural muscles tend to shorten in response to over-use, under-use or trauma, whereas phasic muscles tend to lengthen and weaken in response to these types of stimuli. These effects can lead to musculo-skeletal imbalance and joint instability when postural and phasic muscles are located on opposing sides of the agonist-antagonist relationship.

Research has shown that pain switches off the postural muscles – a key factor in why an initial episode of back pain becomes chronic or the start of a recurrent pattern.

Posture is the foundation you bring to everything you do

The better you can set up the foundation and alignment of any activity, the better the right muscles will be recruited for their correct purpose.


In the photograph above,  Tracey’s position will mean that her postural muscles will be working to maintain her alignment. They will be challenged by the fact that her feet are unsupported and will also be working to support her shoulder girdle, leaving the movement muscles of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint to lift her arms while holding a weighted ball.

Good one, Tracey! Thanks for sharing.