Your child’s muscle tone may not be something you think about often, but it’s vital for their overall development and wellbeing. What exactly is muscle tone, and why is it important? Keep reading to find out, and learn how pediatric physical therapy can help if your child’s muscle tone is too high or too low.

What Is Muscle Tone?

Muscle tone refers to the natural tension you can feel in a muscle at rest. It plays a crucial role in supporting posture, movement, and overall physical wellbeing. When muscle tone is too high, it’s known as hypertonia, which can cause stiffness and limited flexibility. On the other hand, when muscle tone is too low, it’s called hypotonia, which can cause decreased muscle strength and poor motor control.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypertonia

The most common symptoms of hypertonia (high muscle tone) include:

  • Stiffness and resistance to movement
  • Difficulty relaxing muscles
  • Limited range of motion
  • Awkward or jerky movements
  • Poor balance and frequent falls
  • Pain or soreness in muscles
  • Muscle twitches

Signs and Symptoms of Hypotonia

The most common symptoms of hypotonia (low muscle tone) include:

  • Poor muscle strength and endurance
  • Floppiness or lack of resistance to movement
  • Difficulty maintaining an upright posture
  • Delays in reaching motor milestones
  • Arms and legs hang without bending joints

How Can High or Low Muscle Tone Impact My Child’s Development?

Both hypertonia and hypotonia can significantly impact your child’s development. This is because both high and low muscle tone can lead to delays or struggles with your child’s fine and gross motor skill development. All movement, such as crawling, sitting, running, writing, or getting dressed, depends on the development of fine and gross motor skills. If your child’s muscle tone is too high or too low, it can be challenging for them to build these vital motor skills for their growth and development.

Free Developmental Screening

If you’re concerned about your child’s development, you can take advantage of our free online developmental screening. This tool is a convenient way for parents to know with certainty if your child is achieving their developmental milestones or if they need extra support to achieve their brightest future.

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