muscle is able to perform work by using nutrients introduced by the bloodstream,
a key element of which is an oxygen rich environment.
a heavily worked muscle, glucose is being acted upon by pyruvic acid to release
energy, oxygen is being pumped in to allow this to take place,
the bloodstream removing waste products, the main one being
lactic acid. Problems start when the oxygen supply is reduced,
usually during the compacted part of the muscle cycle, (a muscle
has an oxygen reserve of about six seconds). Then, in the oxygen
depleted environment, the pyruvic acid turns into lactic acid,
which no longer can be removed due to the restricted blood flow.
The muscle starts to ache, which is a low-level pain, and is
the body's early warning system. This is a simplified
explanation, the reality is a lot more complex involving a chain
of organic chemical processes known as the 'Kreb Cycle'. The
disruption of which by the anaerobic state causes waste products
such as carbon dioxide and negative hydrogen ions being produced
in the muscle and lymph system. The resulting acidity further
irritates nerve endings causing more muscular pain.
the muscle is not allowed to recover there is a further build up of lactic acid,
resulting in extreme pain in the form of cramp. Hopefully, rest and recuperation
will allow the problem to be solved.
will however, be occasions where lactic acid can be locked into the muscle. Lactic
acid impacts on the blood flow and the nervous system within the muscle. The 'pinched'
nerves give a weakened signal that is interpreted by the brain as an over-relaxed
muscle. The 'tighten-up' signal then further cramps the muscle, producing
more lactic acid, and locking the muscle into spasm.
parts of the body do not act in isolation, and this muscle may have passing through
it a blood supply to, or, from other muscles, as well as nerve paths to those
muscles. These in turn will start to suffer and become tied into the original
source. This is known as referred pain. We then have tight muscles distorting
the skeletal system, resulting in poor posture, related aches and pains, a lowering
of the person's spirits and a depleted immune system.
means of restoring muscular function varies from, surgery, medicine in several
forms, manipulation, or painkillers.
first two of these require the ministrations of a medically qualified person,
the latter two can be either administered by either oneself, or a trained therapist.
The intention of any therapy
is to induce healing, or more correctly self-healing. Therapies fall into three
categories, relaxation, manipulation, and pain relief, most are whole body, or
therapies fall into two categories, deep and sometimes painful, hence such comments
as, 'If it isn't hurting it isn't working.' Or, 'no gain
this can give some benefit, for the induced pain causes the release of the body's
highly effective painkillers, endorphins. These over-ride the original pain for
varying lengths of time, and it is hoped that during this period the original
locked-in system will self-release.)
The second group is the 'light touch'
therapies, whose aim is to locate and release the cramped muscle without inducing
further pain. The means of achieving this varies from therapy to therapy, some
use oils, others general massage, others structured and precise techniques. The
common factor is the relaxation and comfort induced, a healing process in itself.
A word of warning.
is a great temptation to try as many therapies as possible. However, the brain
and body can become confused, and it is possible to become locked into a condition
of discomfort that is difficult to alleviate.
say, two therapies, but leave at least 14 days between each, then decide on one
for two to three months. It should be apparent before the end of this period that
the therapy is giving lasting benefit.
Wilson - An Alternative Therapists Handbook.
information shown is not intended as a substitute to medical advice from a GP
or any other medical practitioner.