Aquino Alexander, one of our experienced massage therapists explains how a good Deep Tissue massage can be good for your muscle flexibility...
According to Craig CL (Sports Exercise, 2009), Compared with our parents or grandparents, we are spending increasing amounts of time in environments that not only limit physical activity but require prolonged sitting at work, at home, and in our cars. Muscle injuries are more common now than they were 50 years ago. This is not because we're exercising harder. It's because we are more sedentary. What's worse, as we age our joints tend to tighten, making range of motion and flexibility even more restricted. You do not have to be an athlete to realise that being flexible is a necessary part of life. One of the major contributing factors resulting in the cause of acute or chronic injuries is the lack of flexibility within muscles, tendons and ligaments. As muscle, ligaments and tendons surrounds each joint, not only for purpose of your functional movements, but for protection of the joint itself. In other words, in order to maintain the full functioning of each joint being used, the supporting tissues need to be stretched at there optimal level so that full range of movement (ROM) is being achieved.
Let's take a look at an example. The gluteus (buttocks) are part of a chain muscles in the back of your body that help with posture strength, daily activities and injury prevention. On a daily basis the gluteus are responsible to push you out of your chair. As a person sits for extended periods of time, whether it is due to their job, or day to day requirements such as driving, the hip flexors (front of hip), and gluteus can become tight and weak. This results in other muscles compensating such as the lumbar spine extensors and the hamstrings. As a result, this compensating pattern occurs during everyday activities or in exercise training because the gluteus are not stretching to the optimal length. So the muscles in the lower back and hamstring try do to the job of the gluteus.
The gluteus should be activating before the hamstrings and lumbar spine extensors, the inability to activate the gluteus in a normal pattern can lead to chronic lower back pain. Although you may incorporate a variation of stretches to help aid flexibility, many do not find the time to do so before/after activity, the stretch is not held for the required time, or the area that is under tension is not targeted properly. During a Deep Tissue Massage, a technique that is commonly used is Soft Tissue Release (STR). This technique targets each area of the body that is restricted due to tension, which enables a stretch to be applied specifically to the targeted area, allowing greater depth in pressure to be applied. According to Johnson J (Soft Tissue Release, 2009) Stretching is often used for easing the pain of muscle tension and realigning the body so that it functions in a more optimal way. However, unlike generalised stretching, soft tissue release targets specific areas of tension within the targeted area. It is also useful for targeting muscles that are difficult to stretch actively and for isolating a muscle within a group of muscles that would normally stretch together, e.g. the quadriceps.
A Deep Tissue Massage increases flexibility in tight muscles by breaking down adhesion's. Adhesion's cause knots and restrict flexibility. A Deep Tissue Massage will then increase the temperature of the tight muscle and realign the muscle fibers. Once muscle fibers are realigned, movement is restored and flexibility is increased, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone. As flexibility is needed to maintain the strength in muscles, ligaments and tendons, any inhibition of these tissues stretching to the optimal length, will cause muscle weakness. Bieman, W (Sports Medicine, 2005) states that flexibility of the back and lower extremities increased significantly post massage.
Find out when Aquino is available at The Honor Oak Wellness rooms, or book an Appointment for Deep Tissue, Remedial or Sports Massage below:
Bierman, W (Sports Medicine, 2005)
Johnson, J (Journal of Sport and Exercise, 2009)
Craig, CL (Sport and Exercise Medicine, 2007)