This past weekend I was on my way to a muscle testing course and a old friend called asking for advice on gua sha. He was having some pain between his shoulder blades and wanted to know if I thought gua sha could help and if I knew anyone. I immediately asked if he had ever tried massaging it out and if so, if it had created any lasting results. He mentioned it solved the pain for a couple minutes and came right back as I expected.
I told him instead of gua sha to try open the pecs and strengthen the middle/lower traps and rhomboids. After maybe a week I received a message that he was already feeling better. This made me realize just how much I've changed over the years and that the body is not always as simple as the spot of tension is where you are tight"
Since starting this amazing journey into corrective exercise and functional neurology I have never seen the body the same since.
Tight Vs Taught
As a massage therapist the number one mention of discomfort is where people are "tight". However, tension can come in many forms and can be felt in muscles that are inhibited, locked, or overworking. However, to determine the difference between tight and taught let's imagine a string with both ends free.
Taught Muscle Fibers
I like to explain to clients that you could pull a string apart at both ends and in the middle you will feel tension. This is more due to the limitation of the fibers being pulled in multiple directions.
A good example of this could be pectorals and subscapularis muscles rotating your shoulders forward. Then the Scapula rotates forward and inward (medially). This then creates chronically lengthened muscles between the shoulders and spine.
These taught muscle still have a tight feeling to them and can often be weak when tested. Massaging these muscles will often only make them worse and is more like kicking the out a leg of a 3-legged stool. Make sure to do muscle testing to figure out if this muscle should be released or not.
Tight Muscle Fibers
Tight musculature is more of what you might ideally think when you image high tone muscles. This means your tension is where you are feeling it. This can also be fibrotic or just high tone. In terms of the string example this could be like the middle constricting therefore limiting the ends of the rope. These tight muscles can cause what we refer to above as "taught muscles".
Inhibited and Hypertonic (Locked)
When trauma happens to the body it creates a compensation pattern to help. One of my favorite examples is of what might happen to someone when they sprain an ankle.
Let's say pre-trauma you're using the ideal movement pattern, we will refer to this as movement pattern A. This movement pattern means all the ligaments, muscles, tendons are able to engage properly when they need to be strong, and relax when they need to inhibit. However, one day you sprain your ankle and in the process over stretch the soft tissue causing micro-tears and inflammation to build. Your body in that moment creates a compensation pattern we will call movement pattern B. Movement Pattern B may make it so you don't stimulate certain muscles or receptors in the ankle complex and might make some other muscles overwork or "lock". This compensation might be created to help avoid loading specific golgi tendon organs and muscle spindles that sense tension and stretch in the fibers even after the tissue has healed. Using functional techniques like NKT and P-DTR we can help reorganize the way the brain takes in information and return you back to movement pattern A.
Other factors affecting musculoskeletal system
Muscle pain can also be a symptom and not a cause. This can be related to emotional trauma, cranial nerve issues, meridians, organ dysfunction, and nociceptors. The body is extremely complex so be sure to check out a practitioner near you who specializes in functional neurology techniques to get to the source of your pain and discomfort.
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