What’s up with tight muscles?

Tense muscles can hang out for years before causing chaos. They spend that time slowly bringing other parts of the body to the ‘tight muscle party’.

The first to arrive at the celebrations are the nearby wanabee muscles. They seize up to fit in. The next-door-neighbour nerves come with a ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ attitude. The muscles jubilantly squeeze the nerve partiers so hard they lose all feeling. Coming along with a six-pack of beer and cheap wine are the trouble-making tendons. They lure the usually serious and sensible bones into the fray.

This is where things start to get sloppy, as the bones are pulled in the direction of the tight muscles. Muscles from other areas of the body feel the tug and start their own shindigs and a party network springs up. Last to arrive, but not least, is the blood. It comes expecting to deliver nutrients and oxygen. The party is now so rowdy, muscles are acting as a bouncer at the door and blood vessels are passed out on the couch, the blood simply can’t get in. So it leaves, taking its healing delivery of nutrients with it to attend a nice dinner party down the street instead.

So there they all are: muscles, tendons, nerves, blood vessels and bones in a numb, tight, unaligned, practically comatose state. None of them are working and the one thing that could sober them up can’t reach them.

We might notice we are tight and not feel much in that area, but we get used to it, thinking that is just the way our body is. Years can fly by before we slip stepping out of the bath, reach for a falling child or try a dance move from the 80’s. The muscles that would have supported us no longer work. They are withered up, hungover and passed out. Instead of just having an awkward movement we are thrown into a wall of pain. To us, it seems, this all happened suddenly.

Just like a college party it takes more time to tidy up than it did to create the mess. It also helps not be the only one left to pick up the beer bottles.

Massage and stretching are a clean-up crew. They get the circulation going by releasing the muscles so the blood can flow in. The nutrients brought by the blood start to bring the atrophied muscles back to life.

Massage therapists and stretching teachers do enjoy a good party but tight muscle gatherings should be of a limited length to avoid the revelry turning destructive. Regular maintenance massages not only ease tense muscles, they provide some insurance for the future while feeling great in the present.

Tatum De Roeck, Stretch Teacher at The Massage Centre