Most people would say that they know what to do for muscle pain. They would take an over the counter pain pill, heating pad, ice pack, or Ace bandage. If that didn’t stop the pain, they would seek a doctor who would shoot an X ray or MRI. If that showed nothing broken or torn, the doctor would refer you to Physical Therapy. Physical Therapy would do strength training with traditional stretching. Once your insurance runs out, you may go to a trainer at the gym, who again will do strength training with traditional stretching. Finally, if it is still is nagging you, you go back to the doctor that may put you n a brace with some pain pills or muscle relaxers to take when it flairs up. We have all been on this treadmill at some point in our lives. Usually at the end we are told it has to do with our age and we just stop doing anything that causes pain.
The problem here is, the people that should be knowledgeable of muscle pain are not really trained in finding the causes, just stopping the symptoms. The cynic in me says, it is a good money maker, but the realist in me says, they just don’t know! You cannot blame people for what they have not been trained to do for pain. Frankly, I have been surprised to learn how little , as a society, we understand about muscles. Yes, we all have been taught how to strengthen our muscles to make them bigger,faster, and stronger. However, chronic pain is more about the relationship between the muscles and the bones, and the muscles and the brain.
Our muscles are far more emotional than they are physical. In fact, the physical side of our muscles is more affected by our emotions that physical activity. Our brain is designed to protect us 100% of the time. Our brain is in total control of our muscles to make sure we do not hurt ourselves. Otherwise, our brain may say, there is a cliff ahead, please stop walking and our legs would say “screw that, we are walking.” Not a good outcome, right?
Stretching properly is very meditative. Like meditation, we focus on our breath to calm our brain. In stretching, focusing on feeling the muscle we are stretching relax and release is key as well. You cannot think of what happen and hour ago or what will happen an hour from now. You cannot listen to fast paced music or focus on a recorded book. You certainly cannot focus on the news while trying to stretch. When the brain focuses on letting the muscle go, the muscle will release. This takes the pressure off the joints, nerves, and discs. Too much pressure and the brain will fight you. Even in deep tissue massage, without the patient breathing and releasing the muscles, the patient is fighting and the therapist will injure their hands.
Stretching is more like eating than strength training. If you wake and eat breakfast at 8 am and do not eat all day, you will be hungry and you know why. If you wake up and stretch at 8 am and don’t do little stretches throughout the day you will tight again. Every movement you make causes your muscles to tighten and there is nothing you can do but stretch. It is as natural as your body getting hungry. The stretching we are taught at school, gyms, and even PT are more strength training than stretching and that will make the pain lasts longer. Check out my videos on my YouTube page, The Muscle Repair Shop or my website, http://www.musclerepairshop.com to learn how to stretch to stop your aches and pains and enjoy your life!