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Easing stiff muscles

Linda Stultz
Certified Fitness Trainer

(9/2017) Stiff muscles can come from a variety of things, some of which are sitting too long, sleeping wrong at night, exercise or over exertion. Whatever the cause, stretching, massage, heat and breaking up tight fascia may help. Applying heat before doing any of the others mentioned may help soften the muscles and enable them to ease the tension.

Stretching cold muscles could cause injury or just more tension to your problem areas. A good massage therapist will be able to find your tight spots even when you did not feel them. They are trained to detect tight muscles and tension and use the correct amount of pressure for the area in distress. They may also use trigger points to help the muscle release at the sore spot and possibly all through the area.

Sometimes the spot causing the problem is not where you feel the hurt. The area affected may be inches away from where the actual knot in your muscle really is. Stretching is also a good way to work out the kinks in a tight muscle. You will want to start slowly and stretch out your muscles a little at a time and hold the stretch for a short time at first.

The secret to proper stretching that most people do not realize is that you need to hold the stretch for a slow count of ten or twenty seconds at first and add a few seconds each time you stretch. Many people stretch their arms or legs up and bring them down right away, like a waving motion. To get the most out of your stretching routine you need to stretch up and hold it for a while. Stretching this way gives the muscles a chance to lengthen a tiny bit at a time not just be going in an up and down motion.

Sometimes people try to stretch too far at first and this can cause injury or tear the muscle. Starting slow, as with exercise or anything new, is the safe way to go. I have talked about heat, massage, stretching and exercise for tight muscles but something many people are not familiar with is fascia.

Fascia is a clear, sticky covering that holds our muscles, ligaments and organs in place under our skin. When the fascia gets tight and tangled it can cause tension, stiffness and pain.

Releasing fascia tightness with a deep massage, which can be done yourself at home, will help take away some of the pain from headaches, sore shoulders, knees or any part of the body that is affected. There is helpful information out there about how to massage muscles with some fascia blaster instruments that are simply rollers that you can use yourself.

As with everything new, if you have any questions, concerns or medical issues, always check with your doctor first. I was amazed at how just a few minutes a day could take away some nagging soreness that can cause headaches or other discomfort in your body. I hope this information will be helpful to someone and may spark an interest in learning more about the connection between your muscles and fascia and how they work together.

Remember to keep moving to maintain and achieve your best health possible. Any questions, you can reach me at 717-334-6009.

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