How to Reduce the Muscle Tone & Stroke

Male physiotherapist examining a senior woman's wrist

Increased tone in your arm your leg triggered by stroke, transient ischemic attack , i.e. "mini stroke" or any brain injury can be treated and managed to reduce the side effects. There are effective strategies that you can apply which will significantly reduce your tone and the accompanying pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion and decreased functional use

Apply moist heat via a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to your arm or leg. Place the heat over the muscle belly that is tight and sore, creating increased tone. Add additional towels if your skin cannot tolerate the heat for 15 minutes.

Rub the sore and tight area of your arm or leg with moderate pressure, increasing the blood flow to the tissue. Locate the muscle or tendon that feels tight and press perpendicular to the tight fibers for up to 90 seconds until your fibers relax. Stretch out the tight joint while applying pressure.

Perform range of motion to the stiff joint to relax your muscles three to four times daily. Grab your limb below the tight area and stretch it in every direction, moving slowly and concentrating on the movement throughout. Hold your limb for 10 seconds when it is stretched out and release slowly.

Prevent a contracture by wearing a splint to your arm or leg with increased tone. See a physical or occupational therapist to be fitted for a splint. Wear your splint six hours per day or while sleeping at night if your splint impedes your function.


When applying perpendicular pressure, do not move your hand until the tendon or muscle relaxes. Use your thumb or two fingertips to apply the pressure.


Consult your treating physician or therapist for splint recommendations. Remove splint and discontinue use if any redness or sore spots occur.

Serious injury can occur with range of motion exercises for increased tone so use care when exercising. If you have severe pain when performing any of these tasks, discontinue the task immediately.

Do not use moist heat if you have vascular issues or diabetes as your could burn your skin.