Human Muscles:
The Muscles:

The human body is comprised of hundreds of muscles, around 640 in total; though, no-one knows for sure exactly how many muscles there are in the body; this is largely because expert opinions are conflicted as regarding what constitutes a distinct muscle; muscles are found within the muscular system, which is the bodyís own network of tissues and fibers responsible for both outward and inward movements of the body; whilst the exact number of muscles in the human body may not be known, what is known is that the muscles are categorised as one of three different types, striated, smooth or cardiac.

Striated muscles, also called voluntary or skeletal muscles, are the muscles that the body has conscious control over; these muscles include facial muscles and the muscle fibers that move all of the bones of the body; striated muscles are made of light and dark bands called fibrils; these are the type of muscles that are typically injured in accidents, sports or during physical activity.

Smooth muscles are known as involuntary muscles or visceral muscles; they are the muscles that are controlled by the autonomic nervous system; they differ in appearance from striated muscles and lack the bundles of muscle fiber and patterned fibrils found in striated muscles; they move internal organs, including the digestive tract and secretory glands; they cannot be made to work by conscious effort.

Finally, cardiac muscles are the muscles comprising the heart; though similar to striated muscles in appearance, cardiac muscles are also involuntary; these muscles work together to pump blood to and from the heart and throughout the body.

Muscles are able to contract, or pull, and are typically paired together in sets that work in conjunction with one another; they come in various sizes and perform many different functions; the busiest muscles are found in the eye and are responsible for blinking, which occurs involuntarily around 100,000 times each day, though, they can be a voluntary action too; the smallest muscle in the human body is located deep inside the ear and is called the stapedius; the largest muscle in the human body is, of course, the gluteus maximus, or buttock.

How Muscles Heal And Recover From Injury?

Your muscles heal very differently than your bones; if you fracture a bone, as long as it is set and fixed in place properly, it will tend to heal so thoroughly that, in most cases, it will become stronger than it was before the fracture; bone tissue heals with calcium and other minerals, the components of bone, in a process that creates a bond that is as strong or stronger than the original bone structure.

Your muscles however, do not actually heal with muscle tissue, but with foreign substances including collagen; the resulting scar tissue is weaker, less elastic, and highly prone to re-injury, which means that once a muscle has been damaged, it can become the source of a great deal of pain; this is true with both sprains and strains of the musculoskeletal (muscular) tissues; not only can injuries like this cause you considerable impairment and pain, but they can be, and often are, poorly diagnosed and inadequately treated.

The standard medical response to muscular injuries is still mostly pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs and rest; unfortunately, these types of medication do little more than numb the pain and suppress the inflammation, which means that the symptoms are effectively reduced, but not the injury itself and to make matters worse, certain drugs can actually slow the healing process; on top of that too much rest for a muscle injury can be counterproductive, since muscle tissue needs a certain amount of movement as it heals, or it will begin to atrophy (shrink) and weaken.

So in the case of a broken leg, for example, say due to a car accident, where the leg has been set in a cast to immobilise it, which is crucial for the proper healing of a bone, it has also immobilised the injured muscles as well; this means that the bone itself will probably heal as well as to be expected, in fact in time it may appear to
be just as strong as it was before the break, however, it may not be anywhere near as flexible as it was before the accident, and you may suffer a certain amount of pain when walking, or doing anything strenuous, activities which you were able to perform painlessly before the accident.

An injured muscle repairs itself by creating a patch of random scar tissue fibers to replace the damaged ones, unfortunately, they are not always aligned in the same direction, and for your muscles to function properly, all of their fibers need to be aligned in the same direction; the random alignment of these new fibers become a weak link in your muscle, leaving it highly susceptible to a re-injury; for an injured muscle to regain its maximum strength and flexibility, the scar tissue needs to become aligned and integrated with the muscle fibers.

Unfortunately, our bodies do not have an efficient internal mechanism for accomplishing this and it is somewhat haphazard, it can improve itself over time, but more often than not it does not fully resolve itself, resulting in weaker and sometimes painfiul muscles; the problem comes from the fact that the nervous system essentially overreacts to even microscopic areas of scar tissue, by keeping the muscle in a shortened, inflamed, and usually painful state; the inflammation process is the first stage of healing and by keeping the muscle short, the nervous system is trying to protect it from further harm, these reactions however, can continue well past the point of being productive, in fact they can continue indefinitely.

Even a small muscular injury can lead to a chronic pain pattern which persists for months or even years, because the nervous system stays on alert, waiting for the scar tissue to heal completely and become aligned with the surrounding muscle tissue; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a good example of this; this potentially career ending injury begins with the tiniest of muscular injuries from performing a simple repetitive task like using a computer keyboard and mouse and ends up being a painful curse that stops you actively doing anything with that part of the body, due to the amount of pain brought on by trying.

The only effective way of combatting this is by correcting; that is aligning and smoothing out, the areas of scar tissue and other muscular irregularities, Soft Tissue Release (STR) breaks the muscular pain cycle at its root, accelerates the healing process and restores muscular balance in a lasting way; STR is a form of bodywork designed specifically around the area of Neuromuscular Therapy; this type of therapy focuses on increasing recovery rates of muscular injuries, fixing muscular imbalances and relieving chronic pain; STR is a popular form of therapy among athletes as it is a quick and effective way of achieving strength and flexibility after muscular injuries.

The basic idea behind this approach is to apply pressure to the muscles while it is being stretched; this integrated movement technique helps to correct muscular imbalances, including areas that have been injured or have scar tissue; itís important to remember that this therapy allows you to communicate with your nervous system, itís not just a manipulation of tissue.

The application of rhythmic pressure, during a stretching routine, is communicating to the nervous system the re-programming of the muscles; this eliminates the old muscle memory of how your nervous system thinks your muscles should normally be like, which is why the pain persists; when trauma occurs to muscle tissue, the affected area becomes inflamed, but once the muscle memory is evoked during STR, the muscles are encouraged to return to their normal state and the inflammation decreases.

Even though it may sound painful, STR does not put the body through any more pain than it is already experiencing; however, the patient is not expected to just lie still, as if it was a relaxing massage; the patient is expected to maintain an active role throughout the therapy; this is required for the special movements and stretches to be effective; at the end of a session you will be shown, by the therapist, how to perform some of the exercises and stretches by yourself at home, which is important in order to maintain the recovery progress; you should not need to undress completely, but less clothing and stretchable fabric is easiest when trying to move around during the exercise procedures.

Is Soft Tissue Release Right For You?

If you experience any of the following symptoms then you could probably benefit from the treatment: Frequent Sports Injuries, Back Pain, Soft Tissue Injuries caused by car accidents, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, Repetitive Strain Injuries and office related injuries; STR is an effective way to relieve muscle tissue pain and tension whilst preventing any further damage.

Chronic Pain Related Leaflets

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