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Understanding Your Muscle Tension and how it spreads

Muscle Tone Restoration - Newsletter - July 29, 2005

Symptoms of Muscle Strain
According to A.D.A.M. Anatomy Education "A muscle strain is the stretching or tearing of muscle fibers. A muscle strain can be caused by sports, exercise, a sudden movement, or trying to lift something that is too heavy. Symptoms of a muscle strain include pain, tightness, swelling, tenderness, and the inability to move the muscle very well". This is indicative of Inflammation and generally heals within a few days.

Muscle tightness however which arises from similar causes as the above, could last much longer and if not relieved, causes the shortening of the muscle and a chain of negative health effects.

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How Muscle Tightness and Pain grows and spreads
Here I will discuss how the tightness restricts blood circulation and tissue fluid drainage and impinges on nerves, affecting the health of the tissue and causing more pain. How Muscle Tension and Pain grows and spreads

As I discussed in my last article, when the muscle tightens for any of several different reasons and stays tight for an extended period of time, it can cause further problems that in turn could cause this tightness and pain to spread to neighboring muscle tissue.

Traumatized Tissue
Muscles flex to move limbs or parts of the body and to protct the body from harm and this includes pain or even anticipated pain. The central nervous system is responsible for sending instructions to the muscles to flex or relax, whether this is a voluntary or reflex action. So when there is pain in a muscle the nervous system instructs it to tighten. Leading through muscle fibers and between larger muscle bundles are blood vessels and capillaries supplying fresh blood with oxygen and nutrition for the tissue and for transporting waste material away. With muscle tightness these vessels are constricted, hampering their functions increasingly. Not only does this affect the immediate muscle tissue but also the neighboring muscle tissue since larger vessels must pass one muscle bundle to serve the surrounding tissue. If the tightness continues the unhealthy condition of the tissue escalates causing more pain and this is communicated to the nervous system. And guess what? The nervous system sends word to the muscle to tighten further. Remember that at this stage the level of pain is below your pain threshold and you are probably unaware of it.

Affecting other vital systems
Besides the blood vessels the Lymphatic vessels also carry tissue fluid (containing toxic material) away from the Muscle tissue. In the tightening process these vessels are also constricted resulting in some of this fluid being trapped.

Nerve fibers enter the muscle tissue and also pass between muscle bundles to serve remote areas of the body. Muscle tightness can impinge on these nerves causing pain to tissue in the immediate and surrounding areas.

So you see how all of the above can cause an escalation of the tightness and pain cycle. And all this could have been caused by just one muscle being continually traumatized.

Result of the Pain and Tightness Cycle
As Muscles tighten they shorten and some of their fibers start hardening (become ropey). The trapped tissue fluid also makes the muscle thick and puffy. Muscle is usually attached to a bone on each end and by shortening it starts to restrict flexibility and Range of Motion.

Restoring Resting Muscle Tone and reversing the pain cycle
The healing and restoration of this tissue along with the prevention of trauma to the area would lessen the pain as well as the tightness and help restore the condition and tone of all the affected tissue, restoring the health and efficient function of the affected systems. Restored tone of muscles will increase flexibility and range of motion will improve quality of life and even improve performance in sport.

To learn how to restore tight muscle tissue please go to Muscle Tone Restoration