Muscle tension and tension related problems are very common. Feel
that stiffness in your neck and upper back? In your jaw? In your
hands? In your back? Tension is often the cause of pain and can lead to other more serious problems like muscle spasms and knots or triggerpoints in your muscles.
Most people just think they have to live with it and it is a result of getting older. Others try to cover it up with alcohol or drugs or try to forget about it by working longer hours. Many are even too busy to notice if they are tense or if they carry muscle tension.
A muscle is supposed to work to support the
joints and help move the bones to create movement. They are the bodies
stabilizers and help maintain posture. The strength of a muscle depends
on its ability to be flexibly as well as the ability of the muscle to
relax. A muscle either works for you or against you.
muscle is really just a muscle contraction that fails to release for a
multitude of reasons and becomes a spasm or knot in the muscle. A tight muscle is also weak and is not doing it's job to support the bones and joints as well as it could be.
You may even think that if your muscles are tight that it means they are good and strong. The facts are that tight muscles are weak muscles. This type of tension is actually unhealthy and can contribute to many other problems like headaches, plantar faciaiitis, tmj problems, herniated discs and other things like carpal tunnel syndrome. A tight muscle has a greater risk of injury when asked to move.
Muscle tension is needed to support the joints and to hold our bodies in upright positions. Tension is created when a muscle contracts. A certain amount of tension is needed - that is called muscle tone. When a muscle is not being used it should be in a relaxed state in which it feels soft and supple even. When muscle fibers remain contracted and don't relax it creates muscle spasms, knots, reduces the circulation and even restricts the energy flow through the body.
The main causes of tension are mechanical -like sitting at your desk all day in one position or participating in sports and the other type is emotional tension. Mechanical tension includes trauma, bad posture, and things like injuries. Environmental factors can also influence muscle tension. Breathing polluted air and eating the wrong foods can influence tension.
Emotional tension is also referred to as armoring (Willhelm Riech) When emotions are not felt fully at any stage of life they can become suppressed or repressed. Repression is the unconscious prevention of feelings. Suppression is the conscious prevention of feelings. Either way, we try to protect ourselves from having deep uncomfortable feelings by tightening muscles. Layers of tension develop starting at an early age.
The two types influence each other and are related to each other. Mechanical tension can usually easily be relaxed with a few sessions of massage. Emotional tension usually requires a series of regular massage sessions coming 2x a week for a few years or even more to break through.
Some causes of mechanical tension include:
Some causes of emotional tension include:
Mechanical tension usually causes emotional tension. Emotional tension usually causes physical tension. Tension affects most every disease or condition of ill health. It cause pain and fatigue. A muscle held in chronic tension uses up energy and leads to muscle and over all fatigue. It restricts the freedom of movement. It reduces the ability to strengthen a muscle. It reduces your ability to breath deeply and efficiently.
Often there is so much tension it results in a lack of feeling in an area. Without an awareness of feeling you are more prone to injuries and disease.
Excessive tension can lead to many different diseases and conditions. It can cause pain in the muscle tissues and constrict the flow of blood and nutrients which are needed for just normal metabolism. Muscles can contract around blood vessels restricting the flow and resulting in poor circulation. A tense muscle also uses more energy and can lead to feeling fatigued. People who are tense often also take shallow breaths because the breathing mechanisms are restricted thus creating more tension. So it all becomes a viscous circle. When you are tense it can also cause a cascading effect of emotions such as anxiety and depression. It interferes with the ability to feel which is central to all aspects of life.
Getting regular massage can help alleviate mechanical and physical tension and help maintain a proper balance in the body thereby creating a healthier place to live. You can also learn to use simple massage tools to help relieve tension and spasms or learn to massage each other. Start with a few simple massage tools. Some of my favorites are the:
Neck & Back Massager. This is the one that you usually see at the county fair! They usually have a demonstration booth that is filled to capacity with people trying this out. I had to get one and use it all the time. It will help reduce that muscle tension and rejuvenate you. (You do have to be careful with this and don't use it laying down on the floor and be sure your hair is kept out of the little massaging rollers)
This is an easy to use massage tool that can also help relieve pain and muscle trigger points. Is available from many different suppliers through amazon.com. It is a sturdy massage tool that can help with those nagging knots in your back or neck. It usually comes with directions. You can start with using it gently on the back of your neck or at the top of your shoulders and move down your back. You can use it lying down on the floor and letting your body weight do the work.
Other things that can help are actually engaging in regular exercise or physical activity. This may seem contradictory in some ways but using the muscles to their fullest capacity can also help a muscle relax. When you sit at your desk with all of your shoulder and neck muscles just contracting away. Other factors also come into play when you are under stress. Chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline are released into your body. These chemicals are the stress response hormones so when you are under stress they are preparing your body for taking physical action. Today we just continue to sit and the chemicals never get out of the body and excess amounts of these cause other problems in the body. Basically you are swimming in a toxic waste pool! Excess muscle tension can lead to knots or triggerpoints in the muscles. It is those little knots that are the cause of most of your pain and problems. They can cause pain in the spot they are located or they can cause pain in other areas of your body.
When you get too many of those knots in your muscles you then you most likely have myofascial triggerpoint syndrome.
Getting rid of those knots is a process of finding them and working on them with massage from a professional or from do it yourself pressure point therapy.
You can learn more about triggerpoints and myofascial pain syndrome in this handy Ebook tutorial "Save Yourself from Myofacial Pain Syndrome"from a fellow massage therapist - Paul Ingram. You can download it directly to your computer!
Or if you are ready - call for your massage appointment today! 206-623-1391 or find a Massage Therapist in your area! Read more on how to find a massage therapist