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Hilton’s Law

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While I believe all of the eight (8) neurological laws are important, I would offer that Hilton’s Law and Arndt-Schultz Law are the two (2) most important. Hilton’s Law states “The principle that the nerve supplying a joint also supplies both the muscles that move the joint and the skin covering the articular insertion of those muscles.” This is significant as it allows the therapist to work an area of tissue (skin, fascia, and muscle) over the joint and still have significant effect on the entire joint area. This means then, that less pressure can be applied at the skin area with results extending to the deeper tissues, through the fascia and into the muscle tissues. Additionally, by superficially working the skin and fascia over the insertion of the muscles of a joint, all of the muscles in the area of the joint can be relaxed with less effort, and increased success.

Arndt-Schultz Law states “In brief: the physiological response reverses direction when the stimulus changes from small (weak) to large (strong), and vice-versa.” From a massage therapy point of view, this is significant because repeatedly working an area over a longer period of time will inhibit neurological response in the area, thereby relaxing the muscle(s). Conversely, if the situation arises, at the end of the massage for instance, that it is necessary to excite the muscles, lighter strokes (as in light tapotment or brushing strokes) will “wake up” the muscles and prepare them for additional upcoming movement.

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