Body Aches and Knots

It is common to hear complaints about aching backs, sore shoulders and stiff necks. Chronic tension in these areas is often caused by how we use our bodies as we go about our daily routines. Hunching over a desk for hours at a time, carrying trays full of food on one shoulder or bending improperly while lifting objects are just a few examples of what can cause repetitive use injuries to a muscle.

Other causes can be attributed to enjoyable activities such as playing the guitar, gardening or playing golf. The unnatural posture and repetitive actions (or sometimes lack of action) required to engage in everyday activities can eventually cause muscles to weaken and tighten up while other muscles become overstretched. 

"Knots" sometimes develop when muscles are strained. I am frequently asked to explain this. There are several theories on the subject but the most widely acceptable answer is this: Muscle fibers fray or develop micro tears. As part of the body’s normal healing process, scar tissue forms. Muscle fibers can also become ‘sticky” if they aren’t well hydrated which causes the fibers to adhere to each other causing a tight or stuck feeling.  Knots, ropy bands, adhesions, scar tissue, and trigger points are, for the most part, interchangeable terms, but each has some unique detail that we won’t go into here. Keeping it simple.

In any event, the pain you feel is your body telling you it doesn't like what you are doing. It is rebelling. It is yelling at you. Sometimes you ignore it hoping it will stop reacting like a dramatic teenager. It may quiet down for a while but in typical teen fashion, it will act up again.  

What will massage do? Massage will take those overstretched, tight, strained, weak, knotty muscles and help them return to their normal length and tone. Something important to remember though is that your muscle madness didn’t appear overnight so it probably won’t go away in just one session. I’ve worked on muscles that are so distraught they actually kicked me out. Yes when I pushed, they pushed back. With some patience and consistency they finally realized I’m in charge.  

So what happens when you go off on your own? You are going to have to make good decisions. Be aware of your posture. Adjust your computer monitor to eye level. Adjust your keyboard so you can keep your arms bent as close to 90 degrees as possible. Use a cold pack. Use a heat pack. Know when to use which. Find outlets for your stress. Get up and stretch. Use a foam roller, tennis ball or any self-massage tool that appeals to you.  Drink water. Eat your veggies. Don’t run with scissors. You get the idea. Oh and last but certainly not least -schedule regular massages. Your muscles will thank you.

By: Lynne Gavrilis