Excessively contracted muscles will cut off circulation to the organs and joints which eventually causes a lack of free movement and health issues. In gyms and many other types of training, the focus is on layering contraction of the muscles over contraction. This gives a false sense of strength. A common myth is that movement occurs only through muscle contraction. If someone is doing lots of movement in work or sports, the logical conclusion is that muscle shortening and pulling will eventually deteriorate.
Ida Rolf explains in “The Protean Body” by Don Hanlon Johnson:
“Ida Rolf discovered that body movement can also occur by lengthening a muscle. For example, it is possible to learn to move one's leg so that the quadriceps lengthen in concert with the psoas's lengthening and dropping back toward the rear wall of the belly, to rotate the head without shortening the muscles of the neck, to lift the forearm without shortening the biceps. I said to Ida one day, "How in the hell can you raise your forearm without shortening your biceps?" "Watch" she retorted. She lay a man down on a table, instructing him to move his elbow straight in and out from his side. We all observed that the muscles did indeed shorten. She began to work on the fascia of this arm and shoulder. Ten minutes later, when he repeated the original movement, there was no contraction. The elbow was moving by the lengthening of the tissues -- in both flexors and extensors -- in the upper arm.”
The tendency in life whether one is moving or not is to create either strong or weak contracted muscles. A contraction of the muscle in one area will affect the whole body through the fascial network. A fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs.
Chinese medicine and chi gung/ nei gung practices understood fascial connectivity and plotted for treatment with needles, massage or exercise pathways along the fascial network. By stimulating these pathways, tension is released or properly created that affects the linking areas of the fascia. These lines were mistranslated as meridians. The original meaning was vessels; vessels that carry blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the tissues. A modern understanding of this network is outlined in the book, Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers.
Muscles also contract by a lack of use as well as muscle use. In my Somatic Qigong Sessions as well as Somatic Acupressure Bodywork Sessions, I focus on manipulating the muscles and fascia so that they will open up and lengthen. I also teach exercises that help the muscles to release their contraction and lengthen. Recently I gave a class on walking properly in order to avoid straining the joints and to become more efficient at not losing energy when walking by lengthening the muscles.