Tag Archives: muscle fibers

The Benefits of Massage

Massages feels amazing, especially after a grueling workout—and their benefits aren’t just skin deep. Soft tissue massage is exceptionally good for bone-weary athletes and people with inflammation-related chronic conditions like arthritis and muscular dystrophy, according to research from McMaster University. Vigorous exercise causes small tears in your muscle fibers, and your body’s natural repair process naturally leads to inflammation and soreness.

To see if massage truly aids recovery, the researchers biopsied volunteers’ legs over the course of three sessions—once while at rest, a second time after they’d vigorously exercised on a stationary bike and received a 10-minute massage on one thigh, and a third biopsy two and a half hours after the second to track the repair processes between the massaged and un-massaged legs.

Unsurprisingly, massage reduced the production of cytokines, which play a critical role in inflammation, and stimulated mitochondria—the tiny powerhouses inside your cells that convert glucose into energy for cell function and repair. So make sure to schedule regular massages; your muscles will adapt better to the demands of increased exercise.

Whole Body Treatment

The usual approach to treating sore muscles is to use liniment for a relaxing rubdown, or use a high tech blanket, or maybe do some leg stretches.  And if none of those techniques work, what is next?  Trigger points, or muscle knots, are small patches of contracted muscle fibers that cause aching and stiffness. When activated through strain or injury, they cause pain either at the site itself, or refer it somewhere else in the body.

Thousands of muscle fibers contract to create movement. Sometimes muscle fibers can tear, leading to tension, swelling, and heat. What may begin as a small numbers of fibers, barely noticeable, can become a progressive problem as the micro trauma spreads to adjacent muscle fibers.

Conscientious riders will be aware of the smallest change in movement or behavior and take action before the problem becomes a major injury.

When muscle fibers are injured, the surrounding area becomes shortened and tight. This uneven stress can be transferred through the fascia and cause additional pain and restrictions in other parts of the body as trigger points or stress points.  My job is to apply gentle pressure until the restriction is released, and free movement and balance are restored. Muscle tension, pain, postural imbalances, and improved circulation are all benefits of stress and trigger point therapy. As Jack Meagher always said, “That is called putting your finger on the problem!”


The Benefits of Heat

Once you have gotten past the acute stages of healing an injury, applying heat can be both soothing and healing. But did you know the best source of heat comes from the body itself? The body will create heat when massage is administered. This heat from within the body will separate muscle fibers that are stuck together and increase circulation to the injured area.

Using heat and massage for chronic conditions before participating in activities will help prevent re-injury. The cold laser is another method of increasing circulation to a healing injury.

Do not use heat treatments after activity, and do not use heat after an acute injury or if an infection is present.  At that time, ice is preferable, keeping tissues in a state of “suspended animation.”


More on Massage

When muscle cells can slide easily past each other, movement is smooth. If certain cells or muscle fibers adhere to each other, a muscle may have difficulty shortening as well as lengthening. Any time muscle fibers get clumped together, the muscle will be prevented from easily lengthening or shortening. A muscle can get stuck in an extended position, a situation I see fairly frequently with the pectoral muscles of a horse, and the triceps. A buckling may occur on shortening: think of a rug getting wrinkled.

How You Can Prevent Injuries

Muscles that are used constantly become short and tight, making them less effective, easily exhausted, and at risk for injury. Massage, specifically for athletes, both equine and human, relaxes contracted muscles by manually spreading muscle fibers and increasing circulation. This allows muscles to function more effectively, with greater range of motion, which makes them less prone to injury. Stress Point Therapy, or Sports Massage, can virtually extend the athletic career.

After a Horse Show Weekend

Muscles that have worked very hard will often develop some inflammation. This is a normal process that helps new muscle fibers form. It is important that the inflammation is kept to a light degree, as intense inflammation will form scar tissue. After the show, use cold hosing, ice boots, deep massage, and cold laser. All will promote blood circulation which will bring healing oxygen to muscle fibers. A brisk rub with liniment (see side bar for Chapman’s, a homeopathic liniment that I like) will also stimulate circulation. Transfer Factor and supplements such as Vitamin C, E, and Selenium are also essential for keeping inflammation from free radicals under control.

A Discussion of Muscles

What all horse lovers are striving for in their mounts is balance. Anatomical balance starts with a well bred horse whose joints and muscles are as close to an ideal standard as possible. After that, there should be equal tension on muscles when the horse is standing still. When muscles have equal tone, the amount of wear and tear on muscles and joints (which are moved by muscle) will be the result.

Horses (and people too!) are born with a set number of muscle fibers. You can’t add to the number, though you can increase the size of the muscles through exercise. However, you can lose muscle fibers through atrophy, and they can never be regained. Muscle fibers can be lost through injury, but also through non use. That is why it is so important not to rely on prolonged rest to resolve lameness issues. Every body needs rest, and every injury needs some time to heal. After that, activity is essential to prevent becoming permanently disabled.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...