Keeping Your Muscles Supple!
In my previous blog, I mentioned that I got injured, which subsequently sparked my interest in becoming a Sports Massage Therapist. I thought I would indulge you and expand on exactly how this came about and the little journey it led me on.
I was doing a HIIT class (high-intensity interval training) where we were made to do repeated single leg, sit to stand exercises; this is where you basically use just one leg to go from standing down to a squat position. This manoeuvre really works the set of glutes (Glute Minimus, Medius and Maximus) as well as your hamstrings and abdominal muscles.
Jeez, this was tough, but I continued to keep up until I felt that my right buttock was no longer in a happy situation; I mean it literally felt like an elastic band had been pulled so tight, to a point where it was about to snap. I hope you’re still with me?
At this point, I had told the instructor that I was done and my poor buttocks couldn’t take anymore, so I piped up with “any chance we can switch things up a bit please?” (I mean come on)!!
Over the next few days, all was fine but I noticed when I walked up the steep hills of Leigh on Sea (great for the butt) I actually felt my right glute muscles twanging.
As a few days past and I noticed a burning sensation at the tops of the back of my legs. Unbeknownst to me, this was likely due to the contraction of my muscles, likely the piriformis had contracted under the repetition and begun to compress against my sciatic nerve.
For those of you who are not familiar with the sciatic nerve, it is the largest single nerve in the human body and it runs from each side of the lower spine through deep within the buttock into the back of the thigh and all the way down to the foot. Without this vital nerve, we would have no connection from the spinal cord to the leg and foot muscles.
I found sitting down at work uncomfortable and I even tried folding up a pashmina to sit on. This went on for over two weeks and eventually, the burning sensation crept down the front of my shin and down to my toes. I tried various stretches like pigeon pose, quite a full-on yoga position https://www.healthline.com/health/back-pain/sciatic-stretches, a wonderful stretch, however, nothing seemed to work. So, my frustration built and I began feeling way beyond my years!!
I booked an appointment with a Sports Therapist who had been recommended to me by a close friend. After a few sessions my right buttock had been massaged (this is always rather funny the first time you have this done, or I thought it was anyway) and I received NMT which is neuromuscular therapy. This is where the therapist gradually increases applied pressure to a specific problem area and this provokes a reflex in the muscle to relax.
This treatment also delivers a blast of nutrients and much-needed oxygen to the area; where the muscle has been in a state of contraction, it’s screaming out for food, air and blood flow. Each muscle is made up of hundreds of fibres that should be aligned and smooth. When our muscles contract and this could be down to chronic stress, being overworked or strained, the muscle fibres become unaligned and crossover, which is where we feel these horrid knots and bumps.
So thanks to the expertise of this wonderful therapist, who also gave me some additional stretches to ensure I kept the muscles supple, I was free again. I still get it every now and then, but I just have to get various areas released to maintain it and it gradually subsides over the next few days. Amazing! The wonders of the human body hey.
Of course you can try and do this using a foam roller or tennis ball, but unfortunately, these tools will not provide you with the targeted pressure needed to loosen the area. Foam rolling I would recommend as regular maintenance in between massages and of course you can keep a hardball close-by, such as a baseball. You can sit on this until you find your troublesome area. It’s like scratching an itch that has been there for years; a pleasure-pain sensation!
So if you feel like your muscles have gone into a state of contraction, and you will know when this happens, as it is without a doubt easily recognisable, then you need these bad boy muscles released. No mucking about, please don’t try and sort it yourself like me and suffer, hoping that it will sort itself; go and see someone who can help. Oh hello, that would be me!
Remember tight muscles – “this ain’t no disco”…. (Micky Flanagan)