Muscle health in its simplest definition is when muscle fibers are gliding smoothly and freely so that they are able to do their job. Flexibility, strength, and hydration are required.
Skeletal muscles move bones which allow us to do all the activities of living. For our purposes, we will primarily focus on skeletal muscles aka voluntary muscles.
Involuntary muscles, like the heart, move regardless of consciousness. One thing that both voluntary and involuntary muscles have in common is the possibility of referral pain. In the same way, that heart failure can refer pain down the left arm, skeletal muscles can also refer pain. Almost always, the pain site is NOT the origin site.
A massage clinician will evaluate clients to determine what soft tissue is involved in order to customize a treatment that targets the origin of the pain. Addressing every layer of soft tissue from the skin down allows for lasting pain relief. A layer by layer approach within the comfort level of the client allows us to reach deep without pain. Forceful pressure only serves to provoke muscle guarding which limits the depth of treatment.
My first introduction to referral pain was during college when pain in the back of my shoulder became chronic and scary. Physician's and chiropractors failed to help. Finally, a massage therapist released a problemed front muscle causing back pain.
"What is it that forms that painful knot in my muscle," is a common question. Fascial adhesions is the short answer. Think of raw chicken and the thin film between the skin and the meat. That is one example of fascia. That fibrous, soft connective tissue is throughout the body. This web-like film encircles all body components and compartments. It provides integrity, support, and protective structure. It even covers bones.
When muscles get injured, whether by trauma or by over-over use, multiple layers of the soft tissues are impacted individually and often in the way they interact with each other including fascia.
Advanced medical massage clinicians evaluate the soft tissues to determine which areas are involved. Then we use various techniques of moving the soft tissues that help to restore and realign. The body is created to do this as it heals itself. When the natural healing process gets stuck, we use manual manipulation to help bring restoration.
This video provides more in-depth explanation and view of the fascia:
Stay tuned for blogs about hydration, flexibility, strength, and more
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