Have you ever wondered about those knots that are making your muscles feel tense and achy? What are they?!?! Why do they hurt?!?! The answer lies at the microscopic level – the realm of cells and molecules – and is quite fascinating:
Every muscle is composed of many muscle fibers, each possessing little contractile units called sarcomeres. It is the action of these sarcomeres that makes a muscle contract. According to Valerie DeLaune, author of Trigger Point Therapy for Headaches and Migraines, problems occurs where numerous sarcomeres are contracted “into … small thickened area(s) and the rest of the sarcomeres in the myofibril are stretched thin. Several of these contractures in the same area are probably what we feel as a ‘knot’ or ‘tight band’ in the muscle.” A muscle that is continuously contracted receives less local circulation, which means that less oxygen and nutrients reach the tissue. Oxygen is required to break the muscle contraction, but its absence means that sarcomere contraction is sustained. To add insult to injury, tissue containing trigger points has elevated levels of inflammatory chemicals, which are all considered to be associated with persistent pain states.
Massage therapy will break that vicious cycle which the sarcomere is locked into by smoothing out the contracted muscle, flushing out metabolic waste and inflammatory chemicals and bringing in fresh blood and oxygen. Aaaahhhh…feels so good!!