Posted by: wortix | February 19, 2009

Tame Your Tension

>>> Consult online with doctors this issue or
any other healthcare issue at

Muscle tension is like a car that’s idling too fast. The car is revved up and working hard, but nothing useful is happening. There’s more wear and tear on the motor. Not only that, the motor is burning more fuel and creating more pollution.


With muscle tension your muscles are working hard, but aren’t doing anything useful. The tension doesn’t help you move and it doesn’t make your muscles stronger. It doesn’t really accomplish anything at all, and it’s unhealthy.

Muscle tension causes a lot of wear and tear on your body. It strains the tendons that hold your muscles to your bones. It pulls the joints tighter together, causing not only the cartilage in your joints to wear out, but also horrible grinding and crunching sounds. The tension limits your movement, interferes with your co-ordination, and might make you more accident-prone.

Tense muscles burn up your body’s fuel, making you feel tired. They also create the equivalent of car exhaust – toxic waste products (called metabolites) that fatigue your muscles and make them feel sore and achy.

You know from experience – tension is not good. It’s not a healthy use of your body or your energy.

It’s important that you get your tension under control. Not only will you feel more comfortable, tranquil, and energized, you’ll also prevent a lot of problems from occurring, from kinks in your neck to early arthritis. To manage it better, it helps to know what causes your tension.

The Culprits
Stress is a major source of muscle tension. When under stress, you’re like a turtle trying to pull its head into its shell. Your shoulders round forward and lift up as your head pulls back. If your stress level is high, you might actually notice your shoulders around your ears. If your stress isn’t quite so significant, the shoulder muscles simply tighten up.

Just sitting or staying still for periods of time also causes your muscles to tighten up. By staying static, you’re training your muscles to lock your back or neck in a specific posture. When you begin to move, your muscles stay tense in an effort to keep your position. It takes some time for the muscles to realize that they can let go and relax. The longer you sit without moving, the more you train your muscles to lock into position and the longer it takes to release them.

Considering how tension is created, you can see that the areas most vulnerable to it are your neck, shoulders, and back. Although tension can develop in any muscle, these are the areas that are most commonly affected.

Tenderness and Tension
How do you know if your muscles are tense? One of the best indicators is tenderness in your muscles – the discomfort you feel when you press on the muscles.

Blood vessels normally deliver oxygen and nutrients to muscles and flush away waste products. When your muscles are tense, they essentially squeeze their own blood vessels. The muscles are working hard and creating lots of waste that doesn‘t get washed out of the muscle. As these metabolites accumulate, they start to irritate pain nerves. If the tension is significant, you’ll actually start to feel achy. If the tension is less severe, the nerves become sensitive and any added stimulus, like a squeeze to the muscle, causes discomfort.

When your muscles are healthy and relaxed, they won’t be tender. You won’t feel any discomfort even if your relaxation massage practitioner is applying lots of pressure.

Relaxation Massage to the Rescue
Relaxation massage (sometimes called table massage) plays an important role in helping with your tension. Like a fine mechanic, your relaxation massage practitioner can adjust how fast your ‘muscle motors’ are idling.

Relaxation massage has two benefits. First, it prompts a relaxation response in your body. This reduces the common defensive reactions in your body, including that turtle-in-the-shell action of your neck muscles. Relaxation causes your brain and nervous system to slow down, and this in turn lowers the tension in all the muscles in your body.

Second, with relaxation massage, your muscles are pulled and stretched. This physically releases the muscle. In addition, the sensations that your muscles feel, both conscious and subconscious, give your brain information about the level of tension that exists in your muscles. This helps your nervous system to adjust your muscles to a normal level of tone.

The wonderful thing about relaxation massage is that its effects on tension are almost instantaneous. You feel the tension leaving your body immediately. You don’t have to wait days or weeks to see results.

However, don’t expect long-lasting results from just one massage. Although this might happen, factors like stress and a sedentary lifestyle are likely to perpetuate your tension. For this reason, regular relaxation massage is important.

Typically, when you start to get a relaxation massage, you might experience a great deal of discomfort and your massage practitioner may have to work rather lightly. As your muscles relax and your circulation improves, the muscle tenderness decreases. Relaxation massages that follow are usually much more comfortable. As your muscles get used to the feeling, you might have to ask your massage practitioner to work deeper to experience the same level of sensation.

If your muscles are always tender when you visit your relaxation massage practitioner, it’s time to consider getting more frequent treatments and taking a more active approach to managing your tension.

Regular relaxation massage treatments not only reduce your tension, they also train your muscles to maintain a lower level of tension and to recover from tension more quickly.

Once your muscles learn what it’s like to be relaxed, you can reduce the frequency of your relaxation massage treatments. Then you can use relaxation massage more as a maintenance tool and schedule treatments for the year, just as you schedule regular tune-ups for your car.

How often do you need a relaxation massage tune-up? As a general rule, most massage practitioners suggest monthly maintenance treatments. However, many factors determine your individual need for relaxation massage. Since your massage practitioner knows you and your body, it’s best to ask for specific recommendations.

Don’t “Trap” Your Tension
One of the areas most likely to get tense is the shoulders. The muscle that makes up most of the shoulders is the trapezius – often referred to as the ‘traps’. It’s an easy name to remember because this is the muscle that traps your tension. You can help prevent tension from building up in this muscle.

If you are sitting or standing still for any significant period of time, be sure to move the muscle through a full range of motion once in awhile. We suggest the 20/20 Rule: for every 20 minutes you are inactive, spend 20 seconds moving. This helps ensure that your muscles don’t have the chance to lock into any particular position.

Use the two simple exercises in this newsletter to bring your traps through a full range of motion and to keep your muscles relaxed and tension-free.

Tranquil, tension-free, and good relaxation to you!

Bruce Strickland, Massage Practitioner
VIP Back Rubs, LLC.

>>> Consult online with doctors this issue or
any other healthcare issue at

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