When we cut ourselves, our bodies send down materials to the injury site, and scar tissue is laid down to try and close the cut or wound. Most of us have some form of scar or another from childhood injuries etc. If the cut was more than an inch say, we are usually left with a lifelong reminder of that injury, in the form of a scar. Most scar tissue is laid down in a random manner. We can also have scar tissue laid down internally within the muscles. Most of us, at one time or another, have ?pulled a muscle?.
Oftentimes, when this happens, the muscle fibers literally tear apart. The body then puts down scar tissue. This also happens when we lift weights in the gym or carry heavy objects regularly.
Tiny tears ( in most cases, very little or no pain is involved ) occur, called ?MICROTEARS?. The extra scar tissue that is formed, becomes muscle bulk.
When muscles are overworked, they shorten in length and expand in width ( A fixed volume of muscle?.length becomes shorter, so width must increase. This is very important to an understanding of Carpal Tunnel syndrome, to be discussed later, along with the wrong diagnoses that usually take place ).
As the muscles tighten, they ?clamp down?on the blood vessels, and waste products start to build up. The waste products combine with other chemical compounds to form a sort of ?glue?. The muscle fibers start to adhere to each other. Adhesions are a major problem for therapists.
Muscles connect to bones via TENDONS. Tendons cannot stretch as much as muscles. Bones connect to bones via LIGAMENTS. Ligaments are able to stretch ( in terms of percentage of original length ) even less than tendons.
IF MUSCLES SHORTEN, AND THE MUSCLES ARE ATTACHED TO BONES, VIA TENDONS AT BOTH ENDS, AND THE BONES ARE MECHANICALLY ABLE TO MOVE, THEN THEY WILL.
Sometimes we want this, for example when lift a cup of coffee. But about when we sit hunched over a laptop all day ? In the next post, we?ll discuss nerves. In the post after that, we?ll use all the theory we?ve learned so far to see the implications of that question, and what this little series of posts is all about.
We often see athletes throwing a ball forward, using the contractive abilities of the muscles on the front of the shoulder. How many times do we see them throwing a ball backwards, to equally exercise and stretch the muscles on the front and back of the shoulder ? Almost never. As athletes age, many of them do not understand about muscle knots and adhesions, and stretching equally on all sides of the arm or leg. Oftentimes, knots and adhesions build up so deeply that their physical therapists cannot remove them ( or are not even aware that they are there ). The athlete?s pitching speed goes down as the muscles are no longer able to achieve full RANGE OF MOTION ( or ROM ) in contraction and expansion ). We?ll talk more about ROM and how it is so important to just about every single muscular ache and pain in your body, in another post.
In the following video, try to imagine the muscles on the front of the shoulder contracting powerfully on each throw, but not getting restored to their original length. Billy Joe Hobert was a quarterback for the New Orleans Saints in the following clip from a PBS documentary:
Dwight Gooden played professional baseball and unfortunately, had personal problems off the field. Despite this, in his prime, he was a well known and respected player. Injuries plagued him, and his pitching speed dropped and dropped until he was removed from the major leagues and put into the minors. His speed continued to drop until he was finally properly diagnosed and treated. Once his muscles were lengthened to their original size, he not only got his original pitching speed back, but was able to improve on it by several miles per hour.
The phrase ?MUSCULAR IMBLANCES? is very important in understanding many aches and pains. The body is designed such that the muscles on the front and back of the body ( and the sides ) should work in harmony to keep you upright, with the CERVICAL CURVE, THORACIC CURVE, and LUMBAR CURVE all at their correct values. This in turn, causes minimal stress on the disks, keeps the intervertebral foramen ( holes ) at their optimimum values to prevent nerves from being pressed against, and minimizes internal pressure within muscles. Nowadays, this is rarely the case. For most of us, the muscles on the front of out bodies are often more dominant than those on the back. Strong Quad muscles on the front of the thighs, versus weak Hamstrings on the back of the thighs for example.
Take a look at bodybuilders. Many spend hours doing bench presses and push-ups. Yet how often do we see them spending the same amount of time working the opposing muscles of the back. ? Take a look at some of their arms. Most cannot even straighten them, because they work the biceps muscles so much and rarely stretch resulting in the forearm bones being pulled towards the upper arm.
There is another even more serious issue. If you look at bodybuilders with ?veins?sticking out, a question arises ? Those veins should be deep within the muscle, where nutrition and waste removal should occur. If those veins are ?pushed? to the surface by muscles so tight that they literally ?shove?the veins outwards, is the muscle tissue deep down being kept healthy ? Prominent veins can be caused by a number of things, but one of them is an increase in muscle tightness.
Varicose veins ? In nearly all cases ( excluding certain issues caused by medication etc ), the calf and hamstring muscles have become very tight due to the fact that the head and shoulders are forward from where they should be, due to overuse of computers, working on an asembly line etc. When the bowling ball weight of our head moves forward, we?d literally topple over if nothing else happened. The brain immediately senses that and does two things to prevent us from toppling over:
1. It tightens up the muscles of the lower back ( Bye the way, 99% of all back pain comes from the front of the body, NOT the back. The back pain is a symptom, not a cause. ) in order to stabilize you.
2. It tightens up the calf muscles to help prevent you toppling over.
There are also two very important muscles in the pelvis which can cause this situation. We'll discuss them in another posting.
In the next posting, we?ll look at nerves from an electrical engineering point of view.