Here is a good reason to get massages on a regular basis, if you need one.
Spring is here an brings with it the start of all the sports you love to play like golf, tennis, soccer, gardening (I personally think it should be a sport), etc. This means you are going to use muscles differently than you have over the winter. To illistrate, let’s look a golf. In what other event in life do you put your body into such a contortion while hitting a stable object with extreme force?
Not many, if any, none that I can think of anyway. So, take a look at this picture and let me explain what is happening to the muscles in the body.
First his forward leg is stable causing extreme rotation in the hips while balanced on the left leg, therefore using his gluteus medius and minimus muscles to stabilize him.
His core muscles, the iliopsoas, are being stretched as he extends his back while his pectorals (chest muscles) are working to bring his arms into the swing position.
Looking at his neck, wow, the human adult head weighs approximately 11 pounds. We can add 10 pounds for each inch that it is off center and this man’s head is way off center. To figure if it is centered you compare it to the center of gravity–the hips–his head is not over his hips at all. Therefore, great pressure is put on the neck muscles to hold the head up.
The arms and hands are a story in themselves. I don’t want this to become an anatomy lesson so I won’t get into discussing them or the feet. I think we have plenty hear to make the point that starting up new sports/events with the change of seasons is reason enough to get a massage regularly.
I worked on a young man this morning who went golfing for the first time this year and let me know his arms are hurting. This is common after someone picks up a sport they put down for 4-6 months or longer. This guy gets a massage weekly so it was not difficult to decipher which muscles were tight.
Again, not to get into an anatomy lesson, his back muscles that keep his vertebrae in alignment were tight though he did not feel pain–yet. He would probably have felt tightness if he were not taking care of himself as he is and some time down the road his back would have ‘gone out’ when he bent over to pick something up.
As well, his hip muscles were hypertonic which would have him walking differently if he let them go without getting them worked out sooner rather than later.
His arm pain is from his shoulders. The pectoralis muscles, the muscles in the front of the shoulders, are responsible for bringing the arms forward, turning the arm in a medial rotation, as well as bringing the arm toward the body. These are the primary muscles used in the golf swing.
Trigger points in the pecs will cause pain in the chest–kind of obvious–but also down the arm. Since there are two musclesin the pectoral group, let’s look at both the major and minor.You can see in these illustrations, from Travell and Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction Volume 1, of the trigger points that arm pain is involved when the pectorals are affected.
The young man I was working on probably would have been rubbing his arm to no avail since the pain is coming from the shoulder muscles. In a few days he probably would have had issues with his back that he would ask me to address next week but not knowing to what he should attribute the pain since he ‘didn’t really do anything different this week’. That is a usual response from clients, he did not give this response today.
Because I am trained in trigger point therapy I was able to discern what needed to be done in this situation and he walked out of here free of pain. If he were not getting massages on a regular basis, I would not have been able to help him so quickly because muscles do not respond well to chronic issues.
Travell, J. G., & Simons, D. G. (1983). Myofascial pain and dysfunction, volume 1. the trigger point manual: The upper extremities (2nd ed., Vol. 1). Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins.