Using your muscles is one thing but having the ability to help them recover properly and mechanically operate correctly is another. A sore muscle is a muscle that has been used for a specific task whether it was carrying a couch down a flight of stairs or actually exercising in the gym. The inflammation is due to the concept of using your muscles to eccentrically and concentrically contraction to move weight. Volume, time under tension, and the load of the weight all ultimately play a part in how sore you will be. When you use a muscle and the resistance is greater than normal small microscopic tears occur in the muscle fiber itself. Essentially a very small portion of your muscle tissue breaks down, only to be repaired later on with new muscle strands that ultimately make the muscle bigger and stronger. Much of the soreness that goes along with exercise occurs when our muscles and connective tissues running throughout the body become knotted. Simple muscular knots or adhesions as they are called can not only cause soreness but if neglected and not addressed properly can cause inability to stretch the muscle to its fullest potential and limit the muscles ability to contract. This can cause a disruption in your bodies mechanics and flow. Think of a rubber band that you tied a few knots in. Will that rubber band be able to stretch as far as it used to when it didn’t have those knots in it? Of course not because now the rubber band is tight and physically shorter. Sure comparing your muscle to a rubber band isn’t the most scientific way to look at it due to how much more complex your muscle is but you get the point. Things like self stretching, yoga, and other group stretching classes are great for your body but you will not get the knots out of your muscle by simply stretching. You need more than that. So by ignoring these knots not only are you prolonging recovery time but you aren’t using your muscles to their fullest potential. Why is this an issue if you’re just an average individual who’s looking to simply lose weight or gain a little bit of muscle? It’s an issue because everything is connected, not being able to use your muscles to the best of their ability will influence how well you use them when you’re trying to lose weight, strength train, gain mass, etc. In other words you won’t be able to get the results you would like in the most desirable time frame. Your muscles won’t be able to endure or push through tough work out as easily as before which in any clients case is a bad thing.
There are many people aware that recovery and body mechanics can be generally helped out through eating the right foods (getting necessary amounts of proteins and other macronutrients), sleeping (rest), and drinking enough water (keeping the muscles hydrated). So what is the problem? The problem is the fact that most of these same people view those as the only ways to take care of the muscular machine known as the human body. And it’s not. When people experience pain or discomfort often times they go to your common doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, physical therapists, masseuses, and surgeons. However those aren’t always the best or most necessary options if you take care of your body properly to begin with. A chiropractor can align any structural or skeletal imbalances sure, but what if you could prevent imbalances from happening in the first place? An acupuncturist will pinpoint tight spots and will be able to release some muscle tension while promoting self healing but will that strengthen and correct the actual mechanics of your body and muscles? Probably not. A doctor will tell you to get plenty of rest and take a pain killer but will that take care of your muscles in any real way other than decreasing some general inflammation? No. A masseuse can release tension in the muscle as well but again they won’t physically strengthen or establish any correct muscle patterns. Surgeons can make an incision and lengthen your tendon (which is a very last resort) but do you really want to do that if you could prevent that serious of an injury from happening in the first place? Again… probably not.
The recommended option of muscle therapy/care
Myofascial release and corrective exercises are the ultimate injury preventatives and therapeutic resources. These are techniques that can save you from seeing a chiro, physical therapist, or any of the other specialists mentioned above. What are they and why is that? Great question. Myofascial release is a self massage technique which can be done using a pretty wide variety of tools whether it be a foam roller, barbell, pvc pipe, a kettle bell, fat grip, or any other round rough object. Sounds painful doesn’t it? Well it is but that’s because this method literally encourages you to massage and dig into any rough area of muscle tissue that you have using a blunt hard object. Why do it then? Because it works. Research has shown that this technique helps with recovery and breaking down scar tissue/adhesions in the muscle ten fold. It can be paired with stretching as well and you can both stretch the muscle and mash out any tight areas in the muscle at the same time. It is a step above a massage due to the fact that you can pin point any sore spot with a hard object and do it yourself while also stretching and restoring motion to the muscle tissue itself.
When this is paired with corrective muscle imbalance exercises not only can you restore your muscles to their best state but also correct your posture and walk, sit, and stand like a normal homo sapien should. Corrective muscle imbalance exercises are an advanced way of saying exercises that can correct shitty muscle patterns. For example if you stand up straight and your shoulders and neck fall forward you have bad posture and there are exact exercises out there to fix that. If you sit in a chair and your pelvis is anteriorly tilted you are applying a ton of bad pressure to your back and spine.
There are exercises and corrective methods that can be applied to fix that without having to see a chiropractor or physical therapist. This method paired with myofascial release can ensure that not only will you be able to attain a greater range of motion in all of the major physical exercise archetypes like the squat, deadlift (picking a pencil up off the floor), and push up. You will also be able to bounce back after tough work outs and increase your recovery by a huge amount all whilst balancing out your body and preventing any future injuries.
So what am I trying to tell you? I’m telling you that no matter who you are and where you stand on stretching and muscle care if you don’t believe in myofascial release/self massage techniques and corrective exercises you are simply missing a link in your physical fitness chain. While also endangering your body. You can suffer strains, tears, vertebral issues, breaks in bones, and numerous other injuries if your muscles aren’t operating the right way. This isn’t just about feeling better and getting the best results possible, it’s also about preventing injury and living as happy and healthily as you can. That’s the name of the game.