Managing an acute injury

Knowing how to immediately look after an injury for the first few days can speed up its recovery. In this blog we look at a more up to date protocol on how to help you manage it.

Many of us are well versed on the R.I.C.E acronym (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Which eventually was upgraded to P.R.I.C.E (P = Protect). Over the last few decades the advice on the management of acute injuries has rarely been contested. However, with growing research there has been a change in the way clinicians deliver advice on acute injuries to patients. With more recent research there is a new acronym called P.O.L.I.C.E. Standing for Protect Optimal Loading Ice Compression Elevation.

What’s changed?

The term REST can be completely misinterpreted. While it’s important to have a balance of rest AND loading. Too much rest can lead to
deconditioning of tissues, stiffness and weakness. By OPTIMALLY LOADING tissue it provides the right levels of stress to encourage tissue healing, while assisting with the drainage of swelling.

What is the right amount of load?

Firstly, you must listen to the pain and not try to push through it. But if in doubt seek advice from a health professional, whether it be a Dr or Physio. Assessing the injury will help clear any serious problems, like fractures or ruptures. After having the serious issues cleared, you can be guided on the appropriate movements or weight bearing exercises to perform.

If in doubt seek advice from a Health professional

Additionally, to help provide the right loading you may require a moon boot, crutches, brace or strapping for support. Before being gradually weaned off.

Ice

I’ve previously questioned the value of applying ice for reducing swelling. There is growing evidence that shows that we need some swelling to aid in the healing process and  by using ice to minimise swelling, we could be slowing down the rate of tissue healing. 

See: hold the ice in RICE

But using the ice instead to reduce pain, by limiting nerve conduction and lowering tissue temperature. This can be effective within 5-10 minutes of application. Doing this every hour will bring pain levels down allowing you to move or load the tissue as tolerated.

Side note: Make sure you regularly check tissue quality while icing to avoid frost bite.

Compression and Elevation

These two are the least controversial in their benefit of recovery from acute injuries. Having compression helps maintain swelling to a manageable level and the area can still move normally. Making sure the compression is tight but not causing pain or numbness. You can use crape bandaging or a tubigrip.

Elevation, particularly for the lower limb helps again at minimising excessive swelling. While elevated it helps to be gently moving the
area, which also assists with tissue healing and swelling.

Anytime you’re dealing with a new injury it’s important follow the most up to date advice to help you recover as quickly and safely as possible. By seeking physio, we can offer you that guidance and support as you progress. At Fundamental Physio Newmarket, you’ll be thoroughly assessed to identify the extent of your injury, then put on the right treatment plan to help you return to normal activity. 


References

Bleakley et al 2012 PRICE needs updating, should we call the POLICE? Br J Sports Med 

Algafly et al. 2007. The effect of cryotherapy on nerve conduction velocity, pain threshold and pain tolerance. Br J Sports Med

Malanga et al 2015. Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury. Postgrad Med

How young is “too young” to lift weights?

There’s still controversy with regards to when it’s safe to begin resistance training. Find out the benefits of weightlifting for your child’s development.

In my last blog I covered the misconceptions of lifting weights as we get older. Today we go to the other end of the spectrum, which is as equally misinformed with regards to children starting resistance training.

Across social media we see a growing trend of children involved in barbell training. Whether it’s supplementary training for their sport or weightlifting for competition. But there still remains a stigma or controversy towards children and weightlifting. This can make it extremely difficult for a parent to make an informed choice if they consider enrolling their child into a programme.

What are the concerns?

The most common worries for parents is injury risk and belief that lifting weights may stunt their growth by causing damage to the bone.

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Injury risk is always there, in any sport. But statistically weightlifting has a fairly low injury rate when compared to other sports. In one study, the overall injury rate per 100 participant hours was 1.92 for rugby and 6.2 for football and 0.0017 for weightlifting.

The biggest factor keeping injury risk so low is supervision and good coaching within a structured setting. Especially with children, keeping them focused on correct technique and giving appropriate programming to match their ability.

Another common myth of children weightlifting is that it causes damage to growth plates of the bone which could stunt healthy growth. There has actually been no scientific evidence or case studies to show that growth plates become damaged from weightlifting.  The most common cases of growth plate damage come from popular high impact sports like football, hockey, basketball and volleyball.

What are the benefits?

Weightlifting has been shown to decrease injury rates by increasing bone strength, tendon strength and improving the strength of stabiliser muscles to prevent injury during practice and competition.

During preadolescence we have heightened neural proliferation and central nervous system (CNS) maturation. With increased load and stress on the body with resistance training provides an additional stimulus to the already natural proliferation taking place. This results in a boost in neural development compared to youth who do not partake in resistance training.

How and where to start?

  • Firstly this does not mean your 7 year old will be throwing around heavy weights. There’s a process to building up a child’s competence with functional movement.
  • Finding a gym that offers a programme for kids, which can be adapted to the ability of each child and that they’re supervised by a qualified coach.

Development of trainingTo begin with, every child needs to learn functional movement patterns without any weights to have competency and understand the movement. With repeated exposure it develops whats called their “training age”. This is not their physical age, the years spent participating in their chosen sport/activity. A child at 7 years old, exposed regularly to a functional skill movements programme will have a higher training age by the time they reach puberty. This gives them a greater advantage to grasp the more complex tasks and see greater fitness gains in later stages of development.

Hopefully this will give you more confidence entering your child into a weightlifting programme. It is safe for children of all ages to lift weight as long as it’s supervised by an experienced trainer. Understand that the reward far greater than the risk.

References

  • Hamill B, 1994 Relative safety of weight lifting and weight training.
  • Legerlotz et al, 2016 Physiological Adaptations following Resistance Training in Youth Athletes-A Narrative Review
  • Malina RM, 2006 Weight training in youth-growth, maturation, and safety: an evidence-based review.
  • Powell et al, 1999 Injury patterns in selected high school sports: a review of the
  • Neurological benefits
  • Negra et al, 2016 Effects of High-Velocity Resistance Training on Athletic Performance in Prepuberal Male Soccer Athletes

Resistance Training as I get Older

Including strength training into your exercise routine as your aging will not only improve your daily life but extend your independence long after retirement.

Treat strength training like your retirement plan

If planning your finances to have a good retirement in the future, you should also consider what your health and well being will also look like at that stage.

Once over the age of 30 we start to see muscle loss of 3-8% every decade. From 50+ this percentage escalates.Muscle loss as we age

How does Muscle loss effect my future?

Previously I wrote a blog on redefining “your normal”. It’s a continuously changing shape, molded by your own abilities and limited by fears, lifestyle and lack of challenging the boundaries.

Loosing muscle with age has shown that balance and walking pattern deteriorates, which increases the risk of falling. This reinforces fear and the walls of normal slowly close in.

The other factor with a decline in muscle mass is that bone density follows the same path. This is not a great combination; high falls risk and low bone density.  Leaving that next fall to be potentially the next fracture.

That’s got the doom and gloom out the way!

How does resistance training fit in?

Resistance training comes in all shapes and forms. Using the right type of training should reflect on the individuals health, abilities, mobility and understanding of movement to ensure safety.

It’s well known that resistance training helps to increase muscle mass and strength. To achieve these changes there needs to be a physical and metabolic stress to exceed the demand of the muscle. This increased demand helps to stimulate muscle growth.

By applying this type of training 2-3 times per week we can slow the effects of aging and maintain the levels of independence well into our retirement age.

Resistance training can be as simple as body weight movements, gym machines, free weights, all the way to TRX suspension or High intensity training such as CrossFit.

Be careful what you read about strength training

The distorted truth through the media, of weightlifting is that it’s not safe and will cause you to suddenly have super inflated muscles. While this might be true for professional lifters that have dedicated their lives to their sport, for the average person it will provide strength and improve body composition.

The deadlift and squat are compound movements and we use them in everyday tasks. These are essential movements, when we lift things of the ground or pick the kids up we use these types of movements. Getting stronger at them will protect us from injury.

Recently there’s been some outcries from highly regarded health professionals in the States after Readers Digest published a bold article listing exercises that are “dangerous” for individuals over 50 year old. Without evidence to support these statements.

Here’s to name a few:-

  1. Push-ups
  2. Squats with weights
  3. Bench press
  4. Burpees
  5. Pull-ups
  6. Deadlift

The above list of movements all have a level of function to play in your day to day life and completely avoiding them would only lead to further weakness. The video below by the institute of Clinical excellence shows the varying resistance exercises elderly people are able to achieve.

It’s never too late

As we age there’s still potential not just to maintain but also build muscle even going into your 60’s. It is important though to find the right level of training that matches your current level of fitness and not your expectations from years gone by.

If your at a gym, a trainer might be able to guide you with the correct exercises. You may want to get professional medical advice with a specific exercise programme to match your level of conditioning and prevent injury.

What’s important is that you put some resistance training back into your life and see the improvements in your general well being.

 

References

Volpi et al (2004) Muscle tissue changes with aging

Ambrose et al (2013) Risk factors for falls among older adults: a review of the literature

Edwards M, et al. (2013) Muscle size, strength and physical performance and their association to bone structure.

Seguin, et al (2003) The benefits of strength training for older adults

Neck Pain – Wry Neck

Managing sudden neck pain on your own can be difficult. Whether you’ve had an injury or just woke up with it, physio can provide the right type treatment.

Have you ever just woke up with neck pain? Well you’re not alone. Up to 75% of the general population suffer with an episode of neck pain once in their lives.

Usually it comes on suddenly, from some non-traumatic event causing severe pain and stiffness of the neck. Which can be quite debilitating. Often occurring when waking up, if the head has been held in a prolonged position or turning the head quickly in a particular direction.

This can be particularly concerning when not being able function with your neck the normal way. The reassuring news is that it can be treated with physio and resolved using the right type of treatment, in a short period of time.

Wry Neck Symptoms

  • Neck stiffness – Your range of movement becomes severely limited. Usually locked up away from the site of pain.
  • Pain – Extreme pain localised to the centre or side of the affected area. Often radiates into the shoulder.
  • Muscle spasm – The injury usually leads to muscle spasm of the surrounding neck muscles and causes further restriction in neck movement.

Causes of Wry Neck

There are several theories of what causes a wry neck. The most common one being the small facet joints (two on each side of the vertebra) become irritated or injured when held in a prolonged position or moved quickly. This causes the increased pain, movement restrictions and muscle guarding.

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The other cause of a wry neck is an injury to the disc. Whether it be a bulge or strain of the disc wall, it can cause inflammation and place pressure on nerves that branch out of the neck. This may result in pain that radiates down the arm or cause altered sensation. If you experience this altered sensation it is important to seek professional advice. Discogenic neck pain might take longer to recover than a facet, but still responds well to physiotherapy.

Treatment Options

The good news is that a wry neck can be treated conservatively with physiotherapy treatment techniques and exercise. Physiotherapy can offer manual therapy techniques to loosen the stiff joints and soft tissue release for the muscle spasm. Dry needling may also help with reducing the muscle spasm and strapping can help during the acute pain.

Once the pain has gone and movement has returned, it will be important to consider prevention in the future. Strengthening and postural correction exercises for the neck, along with advice on ergonomics for your work environment may be needed.

Ideally seek treatment within the first 24 hours to start with the right advice for dealing with this injury. After a thorough assessment you will receive the best treatment and appropriate exercises to help you recover from your neck pain.

For an appointment, call on 095290990 

Training – Finding the Sweet Spot

Understanding your training load and tracking your acute:chronic ratio is a great tool of avoiding injury but seeing regular improvements when training.

Bourdon et al 2017

Understanding your abilities with training is a constant adaption. In the gym or on the training field, knowing your boundaries of training intensity will allow you get the best results and minimise risk of injury.

In 2016 there was conference in Doha, Qatar bringing many of the worlds leading sports science experts to discuss monitoring athletes training loads. This is Journal draws together the key points from the conference.

The importance of monitoring your training load is to get the best out of training and make improvements. But also tracking this figure helps minimise risk of injury.

Acute-Chronic Workload Ratio.jpg
Training loads of each session is referred to as ‘Acute’ workload, this is compared to each week throughout the year, it’s referred to as your ‘Chronic’ workload. The objective is to make sure there is no big spike in acute workload compared to chronic workload. A spike in acute workload will lead to fatigue, poor performance and increased risk of injury. As displayed in the diagram a ratio increase increase acute:chronic of more than 1.5 results puts you in the red zone that indicates a greater chance of injury. Also worth pointing out, taking your training level below 0.8 of your chronic workload, surprisingly showed a higher risk of injury.

Staying within the workload “sweet spot” is your goal to minimising injuries. It takes time to build up training load and this should be done gradually.

Measuring Training Load

To monitor your overall effort in your workout there is a simple method of combining:

Internal Load: These are the biological/psychological factors. This could be heart rate monitors, blood lactate levels or rate of perceived exertion.

External Load: Power output, speed and acceleration derived from GPS and accelerometer devices.

Tracking your training load is a great way of assessing your own capacity to handle the session. Over time this can provide information on training load adaptation.

Internal Road x External Road = Training Load

In CrossFit there’s too many variables to monitor with different workouts each day. Use your strength component to measure your external load, this will be a more consistent figure. Whether it’s a dead lift, back squat or strict press. Record internal load a rate of perceived exertion, using a visual analogue score, see below.

The acute:chronic workloads apply to all levels of athlete, not just beginners and people returning from injury. Even at the top level our training intensity needs to be tailored to our own individual needs.

Below is a summary of the journal.

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Bourdon et al. (2017) Monitoring Athlete Training Loads: Consensus Statement Int J Sports Physiol Perform Performance

Complex movements and a neutral spine

Being aware of what a neutral spine feels like is a good start. But when incorporating it into more difficult movements, it requires patience and consistency.

Let’s start simple before making it complicated

Moving with integrity is essential to getting the best output from your exercise and with that, understanding the principals of neutral spinal position play a primary role. You could be pushing off to sprint or jumping up to block a shot or preparing for an Olympic lift, finding a neutral spine provides your limbs with a stable base to engage.

Maintaining a neutral spine

What is a neutral spine?sPINE

The design spine provides a wide range of movement in different directions, helped by having 25 mobile vertebral segments. This allows you to be highly functional. But not all spinal positions are efficient. It’s a neutral spine that evenly distributes stress through the complex tissue structures of the spine. This reduces the risk of injury when challenged and provides a strong platform for the arms and legs to work from. It also provides the least amount of tension on the nervous system as it branches out from the spinal column.

Looking at the supportive network of the spine, it’s made up of 3 arches. A slight inward cervical arch (neck), an outward thoracic arch (mid back) and inward curve at the Lumbar (lower back). Underneath the lumbar is the sacrum connecting to the pelvis.

Cannons being fired from a battleship have more power, stability and accuracy than once fired from a canoe.

Why do we need a neutral spine?

Physically it’s the most efficient position, but it doesn’t mean we need to be fixed in this shape at all times.

It does however become important when we throw complex movements into the mix. A complex movement is something that requires speed, power and timing from multiple muscle groups across multiple joints. Lacking the coordination of maintaining this posture during difficult movements not only compromises the spine but offers poor performance output.

An easy example of poor spinal position can be the dead lift. Often people race to get a heavier lift while ignoring the potential risks to the tissues of the spine. Finding a neutral position will not only be safe, but will offer better outcomes in developing strength.

Another example I see is the pull up. Coming over the bar there is often excessive chin poke and neck extension to clear the head over the bar. This compromises the neck, shoulders and upper back.

If you’re struggling with maintaining this spinal shape when doing complex movements you might want to remove an element of difficulty, such as weight, speed or scaling the movement. Develop better body awareness before making it more more challenging.

How to find your neutral spine

On the floor – 

  • Lying down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Tilt your pelvis up and down to feel the top and bottom of your sacrum, at the back of the pelvis.
  • Then you want to feel the middle of the sacrum, adjusting your pelvis, it will lie between the top and bottom of the tilt.
  • Then tuck your chin in without fully flattening your neck to the floor.Finding neutral spine

Once you’re confident with the shape, get up into standing and attempt to maintain it through movement. The video below, using a stick will provide feedback to keep you well positioned.

… and then once you’re confident with keeping this shape, slowly start incorporating it into heavier, faster movements. This will put you in a safer position and improve the results of your training.

 

Upper Crossed Syndrome – A foundation for failure

Are you aware of upper crossed syndrome? Does this postural shape look familiar to you? If yes, then you take a look at the corrective exercises I’ve included in the blog.

Posture follows movement like a shadow

Are you being double crossed by your posture? There is a chronic condition called Upper Crossed Syndrome (USC) which is expressed by the rounding of shoulders, forward chin poke of the head.  Mostly seen with elderly, but with an accelerated escalation of sedentary lifestyles and work environments, it has become a common sight for all ages.

Upper Crossed Syndrome Anatomy

The position of your head and shoulder is orchestrated by various opposing forces. These muscle balance forces vary depending on the positions we regularly find ourselves in. With UCS there is usually a weakness of the deep neck flexors and overactive/tightness of the upper traps and levator scapulae. This causes a forward head position with a hinge point at the lower cervical spine.

Lower down with weakness of rhomboids and lower traps, matched with overactive/tight pectoralis major and minor causes a rounding of the shoulders.Posture

The muscle imbalance can affect multiple joint levels of the spine, the glenohumeral joint, the acromioclavicular joint and scapulothoracic joint. These might all lead to dysfunctions and result in injury.

How does this impact me?

Well that depends on how you live your life. This is a chronic condition that affects multiple joints and progressively over years they become stiff or weak. This closes the window on living an active lifestyle and increases risk of injury.

With less mobility and stability, comes greater risk to injury. 

This is typical with most office workers, students or driver’s. Their neuromuscular system has adapted to the UCS shape for years. But the injury risk increases when activity and movement levels are pushed higher than normal, for example overhead lifting, throwing sports or freestyle swimming that requires a wider overhead range of movement and ends up putting undue stress on the upper body.

Have you got the following?

  • Chin Poke: Is your head sticking so far out it’s at risk of falling off! Next time you stop at traffic lights take a look at the other drivers posture, it’s common to see the drivers head stuck at least 12 inches from the head rest.
  • Rounding of the Shoulders: Due to a weakness of scapula retractors, the lower traps and rhomboids, the super tight Pec muscles draw the shoulders forwards. Look at overly developed bodybuilders for a great example of rounded shoulders.
  • Winging scapula: When the scapula lifts away from the wall of the rib cage, it’s usually the result of a muscle imbalance. This might take a friend to spot this one for you.
  • Creasing in the neck: It’s the last places you want to see a crease. At the base of the neck and accompanied by the start of a hump in the thoracic spine.

Change starts now – How do I get there?

Expecting to do an overhead squat or chest to bar pull up straight away might be unrealistic if you’ve spent years holding a UCS posture. But there are ways of getting there…

  • Scaling the new movement that your practicing and working within the ranges that your body allows. Giving the joints time to adapt, without risking injury.
  • Working on individual muscles that developed the weakness and tightness over the years. This requires specific strengthening and stretching exercises.
  • Muscle tightness in your neck and chest may benefit from soft tissue work to release the muscle, like massage or dry needling.
  • Correcting form, sometimes we don’t have the body awareness to identify poor technique. Having the coach or physio look at your movement to correct where it’s needed.
  • Change can only be enforced through repetition and habit. The positions you’re in most of the day dictate your posture. At work, in the car, or at home, try to change your posture regularly.

Below are some basic examples of exercises to get you started with organising the shoulder and head. Try following them regularly to give your body the opportunity to change.

Continue reading “Upper Crossed Syndrome – A foundation for failure”

Study: When is bending too much?

This recent study looked at sustained bending and the time it takes before our postural muscles give in and we begin to rely on our passive structures for support.

Alessa 2017

How long is too long, to be in a forward, bent posture? Many of us spend hours doing house chores; weeding, DIY, working on the car etc. Not to mention the time spent leaning over a computer desk or looking down at your phone.

Back pain

Your muscles play an amazing role of suspending us in these positions, but just like with exercise our muscles will reach a point of fatigue. When the postural muscles aren’t able to provide the support we then rely on “passive” structures like ligaments and fascia, which is not their primary role, eventually leading stress and increased risk of injury.

This study looked at 2 angles of the spine leaning forwards and found that within 40 seconds the participants transitioned from the support of postural muscles to the passive structures. While this was found to be a natural transition the prolonged strain on the passive structures has been shown to increase the risk of lower back pain as suggested in another study.

As mentioned in a previous blog, these positions are not “wrong” but it’s better for the overall health of the spine to regularly change position and break from sustained load on an individual structure to provide balance.

Abstract

Static trunk bending is an occupational risk factor for lower back pain (LBP). When assessing relative short duration trunk bending tasks, existing studies mostly assumed unchanged spine biomechanical responses during task performance. The purpose of the current study was to assess the biomechanical changes of lumbar spine during the performance of relatively short duration, sustained trunk bending tasks. Fifteen participants performed 40-s static trunk bending tasks in two different trunk angles (30° or 60°) with two different hand load levels (0 or 6.8 kg). Results of the current study revealed significantly increased lumbar flexion and lumbar passive moment during the 40 s of trunk bending. Significantly reduced lumbar and abdominal muscle activities were also observed in most conditions. These findings suggest that, during the performance of short duration, static trunk bending tasks, a shift of loading from lumbar active tissues to passive tissues occurs naturally. This mechanism is beneficial in reducing the accumulation of lumbar muscle fatigue; however, lumbar passive tissue creep could be introduced due to prolonged or repetitive exposure.

 

Alessaa F. et al (2017) Changes of lumbar posture and tissue loading during static trunk bending. Human Movement Science

Continue reading “Study: When is bending too much?”

Top 5 Posts of 2017

Entering the new year here’s a look back at last years 5 most popular blogs.

Happy New Year – 2018 is already under way. Hope you all had a great break.

Last year was a busy year with the blogs. Here are the top 5 posts from last year in case you missed them.

5. The Office WOD

  • How many of us at work get stuck in the same position and forget to move?
  • This post was offering some general strengthening and postural awareness exercises to follow regularly at work.
  • Try getting into a routine with these types of exercises. It should help prepare you better for training.

4. Trigger Points – what are they?

  • Those knots felt in your traps after a busy day at work are more than likely trigger points.
  • This blog goes into explaining what they are, how they’re caused and how they’re treated.

3. Recovering from DOMS

  • This was a popular topic as we all love a bit of DOMS.
  • Understanding how to manage your recovery and training while in the DOMS phase will make it more tolerable.
  • Also knowing the difference of pain between DOMS and an injury will help avoid making anything worse.

2. Improving front rack position

  • After doing many mobility assessments, the front rack shape is what most people struggled to hold passively without a bar.
  • This was one of a 4 part series of shoulder shapes we should be achieving to help make movement more efficient.
  • It offered a range of mobility exercises to open the shoulder into the front rack.

1. Anterior knee pain in CrossFit

  • One of the most common injuries in sports and top 3 with CrossFit athletes is a knee injury.
  • This blog looked at anterior knee pain and the common causes. It offers some basic suggestions to self managing the injury.

The purpose of these blogs has been to provide a wider understanding of your body and give you more control of it. Wishing you all an injury free 2018 and keep checking for the new blogs.

What’s causing my muscle tightness?

Muscular tightness is one of the disruptions to normal movement and if not managed well can lead to possible injury. Identifying your tightness and using specific strategies will help relieve tension.

One of the main issues patients struggle with is muscular tightness. They get a feeling of pain or tightness and an inability to relax the muscle.

What is tightness?

When looking at patients I need to find out if they have mechanical stiffness or the “feeling” of tightness or a combination of both, as this would direct my treatment plan.

Is the range of movement limited? does it have a soft or hard end feel? Are movements a struggle at end range, feeling heavy? What’s the rest feeling like, is it a constant tightness?

While we can have mechanical tightness of a joint or muscle, there are also the “feelings” of tightness. You might get your hands to the floor with your legs straight and feel the hamstrings tightening. While another person could do the same, get to their knees and not have tightness.

What causes the feeling of tightness?

Tightness is a sensation like many others, including pain. What we understand from pain is that this is not always brought on physically, but also by the perception of threat.

pathway-of-a-pain-message-via-sensory-nerve-in-injured-muscle,2324600

So like pain, tightness is a protective mechanism from the central nervous system to avoid danger. On a number of levels it detects stressor’s that expose the whole body or specific region to threat.

Examples of this…..

  • Prolonged sitting, without movement we often notice tightness in certain areas, possibly through reduced oxygen supply and increased metabolic toxicity.
  • Stressful situations cause rising cortisol levels and increased activity of the Vagus nerve leading to muscular tightness.
  • Repetitive movement over a period of time causes increased tension.
  • Posture muscle tightnessInjury or pre-existing weakness can cause a guarding response from the nervous system.

Using tightness as a warning sign for these potential threats might allows us to acknowledge the situation and quickly act upon it.

What will help my tightness?

Like all movement patterns, we improve with practice. The same goes for muscle tightness. If we regularly bombard it with neural messages to remain tight we develop trigger points and chronic tightness through a process called central sensitisation. Which makes the tissues more sensitive to pain and tightness.

If we can regularly supply our nervous system with input that is non-threatening we can slowly help desensitise the muscle. But this takes time and regular repetition.

Stretching

Most people with tightness, especially after prolonged rest feel the need to stretch out. But depending on our intended goal there are different types of stretches.

  • Static stretches
  • Active stretches
  • Dynamic stretches
  • PNF (Contract-relax)

While these stretches will help, it might only be temporary without regular repetition and reinforcing the nervous system with good movement.

Strengthening

There is a misconception that resistance training causes our muscles to feel tighter. Mainly due to the effect of DOMS. That feeling of soreness you have the day after a hard workout. But some recent studies have shown that strengthening can be equally, if not more beneficial than stretching.

Improvements in flexibility coming from improved ability to handle higher levels of metabolic stress and lower levels of inflammation. By lowering the threat to the nervous system through increased strength, it allows you to work the muscle through a wider range, without getting a stretch reflex.

Massage and other soft tissue work

Another way to help desensitise these tight muscles is to apply pressure. This could be with the use of a foam roller/lacrosse ball or other manual therapy techniques like deep tissue massage, myofascial release, trigger point release, dry needling.

Relaxation techniques and breathing mechanics

Like in the previous blog, an overactive or dominant sympathetic nervous system can cause muscle tightness. Finding ways of breaking poor postures or shallow breathing using a range of methods like kapalbhati, wim-hof, meditation, yoga etc. Using these methods are just part of the process to lowering overall tightness.

Usually, just following one of these methods individually is not going to be as effective as combining them together. Try to deal with the tightness from all angles.

If guidance is required or manual therapy techniques feel free to call 09 5290990.