Low to severe muscular tension or pain is a common problem. It is sometimes very hard to identify where the issue lies, and there is often more than one cause. The NHS recommend several treatments, ranging from drugs and creams to physical activity and manual therapy. Manual therapy, such as massage, can relieve some of the discomfort and improve day-to-day functioning. Massage therapy has beneficial physiological, psychological, biomechanical and neurological effects. In this blog we will discuss the most common causes of musculoskeletal pain and how massage therapy can help decrease pain and increase muscular functioning.
Everyone will deal with some sort of muscular tension and muscular pain at some point in their life, with back and neck pain being most common. Statistics report that as many as 49% of adults in the UK experience and/or struggle with back pain each year lasting at least 24 hours, and back pain alone is responsible for over 4 million lost working days in the UK every year. Furthermore, 22% of UK healthcare expenditure is spent treating patients who experience lower back pain. One of the leading causes for lower back pain is weakness in lower back and gluteals, often related to prolonged periods of sitting down and a sedentary lifestyle. Shoulder and neck pain is also prevalent in the UK and is the third most frequently reported musculoskeletal pain. Pain in the shoulders and neck is highly common in individuals who are experiencing high levels of stress, or are dealing with postural stress.
Postural stress is caused by having an inefficient posture. Maintaining a good posture every day is difficult; sitting or standing in the same positions for longer periods of times, and/ or repetitive movements result in a posture that is no longer optimal. The stress this causes on the body is what we call postural stress.
How will a massage help?
Sports massage is a popular, therapeutic modality…but is not a superficial treatment. It is an intensive dose of physical therapy in order to promote physiological recovery, improve performance and bring psychological well-being. When your muscles are tense, the tension in the muscles restrict blood flow and lymphatic drainage, which causes waste products to build up in the muscles. A massage will increase blood circulation and thus aid in clearing these waste products from the muscles, and in addition lead to more efficient fluid exchange between tissues and muscle fibres.
The improved circulation and better fluid exchange between muscle fibres and tissues will allow the muscle tissue to glide easier, resulting in increased flexibility. Scar tissue in the muscle is broken up and this improves flexibility and muscle function. Greater flexibility will lead to a decreased risk of injury, as well as performance enhancement to help you avoid that plateau.
Furtermore, massage releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter thought to be especially involved in maintaining mood balance, the functioning of the central nervous system cells as well as being a contributing factor to your wellbeing and happiness in promoting relaxation and healthy sleep.
Finally, massage therapy can also help you change your posture. A postural assessment, for example by looking at the alignment of your head, shoulders, hips and ankles, is useful because the alignment of these structures are important for a good posture. As the massage treatment releases tight muscles, it will be easier to change and increase awareness of your posture as the muscles are effectively loosened. The therapist will also be able to test whether your muscles are both tight and weak, or just tight, and can further instruct you in strengthening any weak muscles – or refer you to someone who can.
If you regularly experience muscular pain or have experienced it over a prolonged period of time, why not try massage therapy to see if it can improve your daily muscular functioning and ease the muscular tension you are experiencing?
The Result Fitness Team
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