By Claire Tierney from Phoenix Physique
Have you ever stopped to think about what is happening to your muscles when you move your body?
Many of us hunch over a computer all day. We travel to and from work in that hunched position. Maybe even sit to watch our favourite television program at night in that hunched position. As our shoulders round forward our chest muscles contract causing our upper back to stretch. When held in this position for long periods of time our back muscles become long, lengthened and as a result weak. This is what is known as stretch weakness.
Most people come to a massage therapist with tight or sore muscles. We all feel tension from time to time whether from over training, over working or in most cases all of the above. As our muscles become tighter (or shortened) they create a limited or reduced amount of movement within the joint in which they are attached. It is very easy to know and feel when a muscle is tight.
Often a tight upper back is in fact a weak, lengthened upper back and a tight, contracted chest. It is just as common to feel pain in the stretched muscles as it is the tight, contracted muscles. So when seeking treatment it is very important to understand the benefit of strengthening exercises as well as the stretching exercises often given.
Your massage therapist will loosen your tight over worked muscles with a variety of different techniques and will also help you to identify your areas of weakness, prescribing simple exercise to help create more balance between the paired muscle groups. Imagine your left jaw being tight and your right jaw being lengthened. Your lower face would look twisted to the left. This is exactly what happens to our joints.
This unbalanced relationship within the soft tissue is what causes our bad posture. Unfortunately in most cases, loosening alone will not help to fix the problem. Having your massage therapist working together with your personal trainer is the most efficient way to improve your posture creating optimal performance not just in the gym but in your daily life.
When our body is functioning effectively we have softness where softness is needed and strength where strength is needed. Working together with your massage therapist, personal training and performing daily posture checks and stretches will help keep your body balanced and pain free.
Claire Tierney is one of the Remedial massage therapists at Phoenix Physique with over 20 years experience.