Remember when you thought you would live forever? When you could stay out all night and still get up for work the next day? When you jumped out of bed with a spring in your step, your body feeling like a well-oiled machine, and embraced the day? If you’re anything like me those days are drifting into the distance. I need 10 minutes in the morning to ‘loosen up’ before I can walk like the 26 year old I still think I am in my head! Not to mention the aches and pains I have in my shoulders, knees…the list goes on. We asked Sal from Sal Petrassi Muscle Therapy to explain how our muscles work and why muscle health can reduce aches and pains.
We all want to be healthy for as long as possible right? Your muscle health is a massive contributor to your body’s longevity and your overall quality of life.
How muscles work
We have around 600 muscles in our body. They work hard to:
- Support and hold up our body.
- Control movement in conjunction with our nerve signals.
- Help pump blood around the body.
- Assist with the digestion of food.
- Drive the movement of our lymphatic system, which is our immune / clean up / detox system).
- Facilitate breathing using the diaphragm and surrounding muscles
There are 3 different kinds of muscles that make up the 600 or so in our body.
Skeletal muscles which are connected to our bones by tough bands of tissue called tendons. Smooth muscles work inside our digestive system to move food along and push waste out of our body. They also help keep our eyes focused. The cardiac muscle is our heart. It’s a specialised type of involuntary muscle, that pumps blood through the body, and changes speed to keep up with the demands we put on it.
Do you work in an office slumped over a computer screen, or from home at a dinning table?
Working on a computer tends to repetitively squeeze all the muscles at the front of our body. The long-term effect is constant contracting of the chest and front shoulder muscles. The pulling on our shoulder joints makes them roll forward. This in turn causes pain in both the front and back of the upper body.
You’ll also find the neck is usually impacted. Tension in the upper traps and neck muscle is a likely source of tension headaches and neck pain. See how everything has a dominos effect?
Unfortunately, our teenagers today on their devices, have the worst posture of all. Curled up on the lounge or on their beds, in the most awkward positions, looking down at their devices for hours at a time.
Leaning stance of motherhood
Mums, do you, or did you, carry your babies on one hip? This is what I call the leaning stance.
During pregnancy, our hips are chemically designed to relax the muscles and loosen the joints. Then after childbirth, our muscles take some time after birth to tighten back up into place. Mum’s with multiple children under the age of 5, who tend to carry children on a hip for extended periods of time, will be able to relate to the effect of the leaning stance.
How’s your lower back and hips feel today?
Excluding babies, what about your groceries, handbags that weigh a tonne, or anything heavy for that matter? I bet you always carry them using the same arm? This counts for another repetitive lean.
Long term effects for men
With men, there are definitely those who take good care of their bodies, but for the vast majority, men are notorious for not looking after themselves. It’s important for men to be aware of what can cause skeletal or joint misalignment in what they do at work, at home, or in everyday activities.
Repetitive movement in general sport, twisting, labour intensive work in a compromised position, can all put tremendous strain on our core structure. Everything holding us up must adjust to balance, support, and protect.
Over time you could face life with a bad back, or grinding pain in your knees and hips. You’ll feel the wear and tear on your cartilage as well, plus the shortening of muscles when adjusting, just to name a few.
Unfortunately, the long-term effects of structural change or overstretching opposing muscles, can include problems such as:
- Postural Imbalances
- Neck pain
- Lower back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Structural Skeletal Imbalances and misalignment
- Joint misalignment
- Joint pain and deterioration
- Long term bone degeneration
- Muscle weakness and deterioration
- Nerve pain due to impingements or tight muscles pressing on the nerve junctions
- Numbness and Tingling
- Reduced energy and motivation
- Compromised Mental Health
How remedial massage helps
We’re all busy and find it hard to find time for ourselves. Let’s face it, we often don’t have the energy to think about what we need to do. However, regular remedial massage will set you on the right path to good muscle health, and recovery.
The key benefit of remedial massage is that it will speed up the body’s natural healing process. Treating knots, damaged or tense muscles will stimulate blood flow. The body will start to repair damaged tissue, and joints will also become more mobile.
With movement and endurance, we get stronger, more oxygenised, and potentially bigger muscles, yeah! Without activity however, our muscles become weaker and smaller.
Beneficial exercise includes walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, aqua exercise, playing sport, climbing stairs, getting outside with the kids, and joining in on their play. One of the best types of exercise for muscles is lifting weights. It doesn’t have to be ridiculously heavy, just enough to raise your heart rate and exert your breathing. You can also get physical with your housework, that counts too.
- Make sure you warm up before exercising or playing sports. Warm-up with dynamic movements that mimic the exercise you’re about to do.
- Make the most of your cool down after exercise when your muscles are nice and warm with static stretching.
- Every foot is different and needs support in different ways. Get your feet fitted correctly with footwear that will keep your ankles, knees and hips in alignment.
- Drink lots of water, especially in warm weather. If your body’s water level gets too low, your muscles will suffer too, with fatigue and cramps.
- Never “play through pain.” If something starts to hurt, STOP.
- If you have been inactive, start low and go slow.
- Be careful when you lift heavy objects. Keep your back straight and as upright as possible, bend your knees and lift with your legs.
- Eating a healthy diet allows for the efficient running of your body and for your muscles this means good circulation of blood and oxygen to where it’s needed. Check out choosemyplate.gov/.
Start muscle therapy today
Remember, keeping your muscles healthy will help you have more fun and enjoy the things you do. Healthy muscles will help you look your best and feel full of energy. Start good habits now, and you’ll have a better chance of keeping your muscles as healthy as possible for the rest of your life.
Sally Petrassi Massage Therapy | Taking care of your Body
Sally Petrassi – Owner
Description: Sally’s passionate about health. After a long career in representative Taekwondo, competing in many national and internationals including the prestige world championships, competing at the world championships. Sally then naturally progressed into personal training. Her understanding of muscles and referral pain is second to none. Now experienced in remedial massage, Sally’s focus is 100% on muscle health. Her education and services go much further than remedial. Sally also offers dry needling, trigger point therapy, relaxation, manual lymphatic drainage, and assisted stretch therapy. She’s here to help Lake Macquarie take control of their muscle health.
Phone: 0438 487 799