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Massage and Exercise: A Big Picture Approach

 

Quality of life, ironing out muscular imbalances, etc., read on... 

 

We’ve already talked about how remedial massage treatments can help maintain flexibility and mobility. Did you know exercise can help build on this effect?

 

We often think of exercise as something that builds muscle tension. This is actually true – using a muscle frequently increases its resting level of contraction, so that it’s “primed” to fire when you need to use it again. Like so many things in life, this can have pros and cons. It’s great to have muscles that are ready to go, but when these muscles get used too much – either through exercise or through postural stress – they can prevent other muscles from working as well as they need to. This tension imbalance prevents optimal function by decreasing the amount of contract that can occur in other muscles, essentially weakening and shutting them down somewhat, and can lead to long-term joint wear and tear.

In a previous post, we talked about how massage helps maintain physical mobility and flexibility. This is the first step in re-creating balance in the body – your remedial massage or myotherapy treatment can quickly decrease excessive tension in muscles. In addition to increasing mobility and flexibility, that also gives your body an opportunity to start using the muscles that have been in “shut down” mode. Reactivating and getting these muscles moving again is the next step in reaching a new, pain-free, optimal state of muscle tension, and an appropriate exercise program is the best way to do this.

That doesn’t mean you need to jump right into heavy weights or triathlon training though. Low intensity movements that take the joints and muscles through big ranges of motion are one of the best ways to reactivate these muscles. You’ll make progress in rebalancing your muscle tension even more quickly if you can consciously activate the weakest muscles and add some low level resistance to the movement (something like resistance bands or light weights). Eventually, your muscles will best benefit from a full-body program that includes forward, backward, and sideways movements, as this will keep all  of your muscles involved and active, helping to prevent excessive tension build-up in any one place.

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So, what’s the take home message? No exercise, or only the same sorts of exercise or movements over and over, will contribute to excessive tension building in some muscles and weakening others, creating imbalance. Exercises that incorporate lots of different types of movement will help balance out the tension and physical stresses caused by every day life, meaning that you’ll feel better between treatments – though it doesn’t mean that you won’t need remedial treatment ever again! You will continue to build more tension in some areas, and weaken in others, thanks to our daily activities (computers, anyone?) and a hands-on treatment will always be the most efficient way to keep that tension in check.

 

Written By, Erin Haske (Exercise Physiologist, Expert Remedial Therapist & Taringa Practice Manager)

Images By: Pinterest & The News-Press 

 


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JohnNixon
JohnNixon
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