Why are muscles complicated? We know what to do for basic muscle pain. We can take an over the counter pain pill, heating pad, ice, or a brace. What if it is joint pain or worse yet, back pain? Do we understand that too can be a muscle issue? Chances are, we do not think about the muscles and the health professionals will think it is a joint or back problem. This is why muscles can seem very complicated. When we are in anatomy class, no one talks about how the muscles can cause joint or back pain. What we learn is the name of the muscles, what it moves, and where does it attach to the bone. It makes for an easier test.
This is where the problem lies. The people that should be knowledgeable of pains caused by the muscles are not really trained in finding the causes, just stopping the symptoms. The cynic in me says, it is a good money maker, but the reality is, they just don’t know! You cannot blame people for what they have not been trained to do for pain. Frankly, I have been surprised to learn how little, as a society, we understand about muscles. Yes, we all have been taught how to strengthen our muscles to make them bigger, faster, and stronger. However, chronic pain is more about the relationship between the muscles and bones, and the muscles with the brain.
Muscles are complicated because our muscles are more emotional than they are physical. In fact, the physical side of our muscles are affected by our emotions as much as physical activity. Our brain is designed to protect us 100% of the time. Our brain is in total control of our muscles to make sure we do not hurt ourselves. Otherwise, our brain may say, there is a cliff ahead, please stop walking and our legs would say “screw that, we are walking.” Not a good outcome, right?
Think of muscles like rubber bands. Many of these rubber bands cross over joints and when they are activated by the brain, the rubber bands will move the bones. The muscles are what apply pressure to the bones which allow us to move. This pressure on the bones can lead to injuries as well. Most case of joint replacements, back issues are from uneven pressure on the bones over a long period of time. That uneven pressure can come from posture, trauma, habit, and even the shoes we wear. Chiropractors can put bones back in place and it will feel good for a while. However, the muscles, unless stretched properly can actually pull the bone back out causing you to have go back to the Chiropractor.
The muscles can also apply pressure to the nerves causing nerve pain. How can that be happening? We have all heard our mom tell us to sit up straight, don’t slouch, or hold your shoulders back so we will not stay that way. There is some truth in what mom said. By slumping over, we increase the pressure on the joints, discs, and nerves around those areas. This can set off pain that will drive a doctor or therapist crazy trying to figure it out. Learning to let the muscles relax and release can solve many aches and pains.
Stretching properly can be very meditative. Like meditation, we focus on our breath to calm the mind. With stretching, we should be focusing on feeling the muscle stretching then relax and release it. You cannot think of what happened an hour ago or what will happen an hour from now. You cannot listen to fast-paced music or focus on a recorded book. You certainly cannot focus on the news while trying to stretch. When the mind focuses on letting the muscle go, the muscle will release. This takes the pressure off the joints, nerves, and discs. Too much pressure and the brain will fight you. Even in deep tissue massage, without the client breathing and releasing the muscles, the client is fighting with the therapist which will lead to the therapist injuring their hands.
Stretching is more like eating than strength training. If you wake and eat breakfast at 8 am and do not eat all day, you will be hungry and you know why. If you wake up and stretch at 8 am and don’t do little stretches throughout the day you will tight again. Every movement you make causes your muscles to tighten and there is nothing you can do but stretch. It is as natural as your body getting hungry. The stretching we are taught at school, gyms, and even PT are more strength training than stretching and that will make the pain lasts longer. Check out my videos on my https://www.youtube.com/musclerepairshop, To learn more go to https://www.musclerepairshop.com.