If you take the fingers of both hands and interlace them together, provided that you do not apply too much pressure, the digits will slide past each other fairly smoothly.
Now imagine ( or try ) doing the same thing, but this time, you apply pressure from the sides. That is, you squeeze your hands together. Now, when you try to move your fingers, it is much more difficult.
Instead of lining up your fingers with each other in a parallel manner, ?tangle them together, so that your fingers are intertwined at different angles. Again, try to move them apart. This time, it is even more difficult than before.
Now imagine that you pour olive oil over your hands prior to doing this. You can imagine how easily the digits would move past each other.
So what does intertwining your fingers and olive oil have to do with muscles ?
Your muscles are made up of fibers. These fibers normally lay in approximately parallel lines to each other.
Muscles can do one of two things: they can contract ( from their present position ) or they can extend in length ( from their present position ). Muscles usually work in pairs. Most of us are familiar with the biceps and triceps muscles of the arms. When the biceps muscle contracts ( for example when we are picking up a cup of coffee from the table ), the fibers in the biceps muscle become ?shorter?. At the same time, the triceps muscle becomes longer. When we decide to put the cup of coffee down, the reverse process takes place. In other words, the triceps muscle becomes shorter, and the biceps muscle becomes longer. Many muscles in our bodies work like this, including the muscles at the front and back of the neck. This will become important when we start to look at the effects that laptop and desktop computers etc, can have on our bodies.
When these contractions and expansions take place, the muscles fibers should glide past each other smoothly and easily.
A lubricating fluid is present around the muscle fibers, and is known as FASCIA. This substance can exist in many states, including a liquid state, a ?rubbery material? type state, and in extreme cases, can be as hard as rock.
If you take a look at at packaged chicken breasts at the supermarket, the white stuff that you see surrounding the chicken meat is fascia, in a semi-solid form.
When I was injured, the fascia in my back became as hard as concrete.
In healthy muscle tissue, much of the fascia should be in a liquid like state, allowing smooth movement of the muscles. It acts as a lubricant in it?s liquid state and literally holds muscle fibers together in it?s solid state. In some cases, you can stretch all day long, but unless the fascia is treated, you simply won?t get results. More on that later, when we discuss stretching.
When muscles have to do work, they need nutrition. That nutrition comes in via the bloodstream. The blood provides nutrients to the muscles. Chemical reactions take place, the muscle converts some of the nutrients to energy, ( and very importantly ), waste products are produced which are supposed to be taken away by the bloodstream. But what if the muscles start to get too tight, from say, working at a computer all day without doing proper corrective stretching ? A number of bad things happen.
Firstly, because there is an increase in pressure in the muscles, the various blood vessels are reduced in diameter and cannot provide the correct amount of blood ( with it?s associated nutrients ) to the muscles. Secondly ( and more importantly ), waste products are not removed fast enough, and start to build up in the muscle tissue.
There are three main acids which are produced in the waste product process. The most important of these is lactic acid, the same substance which is found in sour milk. This acid is mainly responsible for the ?stinging? sensation that you feel when you run or over-exercise too much.
Take your thumb ( or have someone else do it ) and dig in deep into the top of your shoulders. I can pretty much guarantee that anyone who spends anytime with computers will find a few tender spots. What are these spots ?
Via mechanisms that are not completely understood, ?knots?can form in muscles. Imagine that you have laid out a ball of wool end to end , then you let a cat play with the middle of the wool strands. Pretty soon, I think that we could see a knot forming in the middle of the wool strands. The strands would be jumbled up and in a random pattern. Imagine that you have a huge long elastic/rubber band, and you put a knot in the middle. Not matter how much you stretch the band, the knot is still there.
Within muscle knots, the fibers of the muscle are arranged randomly, and intertwined with each other, just as when we described the fingers of our hands at the beginning.
NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU STRETCH, IF THERE IS A KNOT ( OR KNOTS ) IN THE MUSCLE, YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO ACHIEVE FULL RANGE OF MOTION.
I cannot emphasize how important this is. Many people whom I have known, have spent a fortune on physical therapists and chiropractors who simply do not know how to remove knots. More on this later. This is not some academic theory. It is real. Biopsy samples taken from muscle tissue can clearly show these knots under a scanning electron microscope.
The former senior robotics designer for General Electric who helped me ( Al Meilus ) had to demonstrate ( in order to receive grant funds ) to NASA, Lockheed Martin and The Department of Energy that his device could remove knots that no human hand could. Two groups were set up. One control group was to be treated by regular physical therapists, the rest via Al?s robot. Biopsy samples ( a small needle was used to take muscle samples ) were taken, and the amount of lactic acid in the urine was measured before and after treatment. The amount of lactic acid in the urine of the group treated by the robot was 50 times greater than that of the regular physical group. This means that the robot was able to remove toxic lactic acid waste much faster than a human can. The device is highly patented, but Al has revealed that the robot contains sophisticated pressure sensors to determine the tension in the muscles. That data is relayed to a computer which has a database containing data from thousands of measurements that Al performed to get the best value to force to ?break up?the knots. It even takes into account the breathing patterns of the patient.
Although the robot is extremely fast at removing muscle knots , there are other methods that can be used, which I will discuss in another post.