I have had several clients recently showing similar patterns of tight muscles and resulting hip pain, which seems to come from a common problem. Take a look at this diagram of our ankle joints….
Do you see how many muscles span across the front of the ankle? Now imagine these muscles in a tight and shortened state, the ankle would not be able to move back and forth very easily. When this happens, we are unable to do big bouncy strides, bouncing off the balls of our feet and leaping forward. Instead, the foot is locked into a more static position and our stride is shortened with a flat pronated foot.
This then sets up a chain of events where the whole leg movement is strained on to the hamstrings, which in turn tighten and can pin the pelvis down, causing hip pain. The flattened (pronated) foot movement also then sets up a chain of events where, in order to stay upright, the knee takes an inward (medial) dive, putting strain on external rotator muscles at the top of the leg, which then also cause hip pain. If the person is a runner, they end up with a running gait a bit like ‘Rachel’ from Friends, if you remember that funny episode.
So the key to avoiding all this is quite simple. The anterior muscles of the ankle joint need to stay flexible and the joint needs to be able to move freely back and forth (flexion and extension). A deep tissue massage focusing on this area, especially if you do regular exercise, will be a great preventative measure to ensure pain free good performance.
Trigger points can develop in any muscle in the body and can last as long as life if left untreated. The pain created by trigger points is an enormous cause of disability and time off work. They can accumulate over a lifetime and appear to be the main cause of joint stiffness and loss of mobility in old age. The constant muscle tension imposed by trigger points over stresses muscle attachments and can damage the joints. But what are trigger points?
Trigger points are areas within muscles which have a localized spot of tenderness in a palpable taut band of muscle tissue. It feels like a hard ‘nodule’ and when pressed firmly will hurt and often refer pain to another site, often near to a joint, which in turn makes people modify their movements. By exerting pressure on these trigger points, the blood flow is rapidly increased to the area which helps to ‘release’ these taught bands and allow the muscle to function properly again.
Regular deep tissue massages can detect these trigger points and eliminate them, allowing you to have as best pain free mobility as possible, well into old age.
Many of the injuries and pain conditions which I treat come from incorrect exercise programmes, particularly in gyms. There seems to be a belief that the more weights, the faster running or the longer time spent rowing, the better.
The crucial thing to remember is your posture. A good postural position is essential to achieve optimum strength and stamina. Without this, you may well be using the wrong muscles and eventually something in your body will ‘give’. Bad technique, wrongly selected weights or overloading muscles already tight and weak, can cause injury.
Many of use get ‘moulded’ into a particular posture, depending on our working positions, for example, often handing over all support of the body to the ‘chair’. We spend more time working than we do moving in many occupations, and it is important to know what postural issues you have before embarking on a training programme.
A postural assessment by someone trained to do so will enable you to embark on your training with the best results. A regular deep tissue massage will ensure your body’s muscles remain in optimum condition.
A question sometimes asked is ‘Why do animals not seem to develop the same sort of muscular pains and injuries as humans do?’
A popular idea in answer to this is that we, as humans, were not originally designed to live much beyond 35-40 years old. After this age, many of us develop persistent muscular aches and pains. We now live well beyond our natural lifespan, due to great advances in hygiene and healthcare.
However our generally sedentary lifestyles and bad food choices put our bodies under unnatural strains, allowing the soft tissues to become sticky and dehydrated, locking tight across joints which previously could move freely, and creating trigger points within muscles. This is often according to our posture or repetitive actions we put our bodies into on a daily basis, developing patterns of strain which run through the body. In turn this can lead to debilitating pain conditions such as ‘frozen shoulders’, most common in people after the age of 40.
Regular good deep tissue massage will go a long way in helping these tight sticky soft tissues to remain more able to slide and glide and thus help to deter the onset of muscular pain conditions.
I have heard many people recently complain about sore knees, especially if they have recently taken up exercising. Sore knees are often just the result of trigger points and tight soft tissue developing in the muscles of the thighs, which then send the pain down into the knees. A common area is when it is felt in the front of the knee, because of suddenly using your quad muscles (which are your ‘brakes’).
This is very easily sorted out with a deep tissue massage, and simple stretching after exercising will prevent this from happening again. This should not mean you have to stop exercising!
Finally we can enjoy some good weather. If this has inspired you to get fit or get gardening, and as a result you are feeling the effects with sore aching muscles, it is time to book in for a deep tissue massage treatment. A massage treatment can make the world of difference to your ability to move without pain or restriction and enjoy your time outside. Bookings for a treatment in Brighton at Holistic Massage Kneads can be taken with me by phone or email. I work from a central location with easy on street parking.
When we walk and run, it is vital that the arches of our feet retain their shape. It is very easy and common to ‘flatten’ the arches, especially when running. Over a prolonged time this can affect our posture and weight distribution up our legs and into our hips, leading to pain and discomfort. The lower leg pain is often described as ‘shin splints’.
Some of our lower leg muscles extend down under the arch of our foot and up the other side, creating a ‘sling’ effect. It is important to have these muscles in balance with each other to ensure the arch is kept at its correct shape. If one side of the sling is tighter than the other, or one side weaker than the other, this leads to the arch being pulled flat or pulled overly high, causing pain. Often if people feel they have ‘weak’ ankles, often falling over one side of the ankle, this can be due to an imbalance in the muscles.
A deep tissue massage can address this problem, together with any needed orthotic supports in shoes, and strengthening exercises for the appropriate muscles, which over time can right a problem.
A deep tissue massage with appropriate hot and cold therapies can really help a sports injury to recover.
When an injury first happens and the area with acute pain appears red and inflamed, apply a pack of ice for no more than 20 minutes at a time, to reduce the swelling and keep the injured muscle still and elevated if possible. The application of ice ‘deadens’ the nerve, thus preventing it from firing and preventing further swelling and pain. Massage at this stage would be beneficial to the surrounding soft tissues which are likely to be affected by the injured muscle.
When the swelling subsides, usually after about 48 hours, the injured area can be treated by a massage therapist, although you do need to get a doctor to have a look at it first. Heat can then also be applied, which increases the blood supply to the damaged area, needed to mend the tissue. Heat also decreases the pain and increases the ease of movement.
The combination of these treatments will greatly speed the recovery of any sporting injury and help you to get back to your optimum performance as quickly as possible.