Once a muscle(s) becomes dysfunctional, other muscles take over to compensate. Of course, it doesn’t take too long before those secondary muscles become overworked, since they are doing double duty, then a third group of muscles begins compensating for the first two groups – and that pattern mushrooms. Soon, instead of a really tired upper trap, the dysfunction runs from the head to the pelvic girdle or into the chest and down the arm.
Another reason would be degeneration in the skeletal structure – as in degenerative disc disease. The brain “stabilizes” the area by having the surrounding muscles brace the area. This works really well short term; however, long term the results can be disastrous.
Another common reason would be poor postural habits. Picture a person slouching with the shoulders and head rolled forward. In this case the muscles in the front part of the neck and chest shorten while the muscles in the back that hold the neck and head in proper alignment get stretched out and weak. Or a person who sits most of the time – in this case, the hip flexors will become weak and can cause groin, leg and hip pain.
Common areas where dysfunctional patterns emerge are the shoulders, hips to knees and the low back. But dysfunctional patterns can emerge anywhere in the body from the head to the toes.
Why doesn’t massage address these dysfunctional patterns? Massage therapies are systems of structured palpation or movement of the soft tissue of the body. Massage does not address the brain/nervous system/movement relationship.
I find it sad that we are so in our heads these days, we don’t feel these patterns developing. It’s understandable if the cause is trauma – there’s not much we can do to prevent a motor vehicle collision, for instance – but we tend to ignore the early signs of dis-ease. I have one client that ignored his back pain for 40 years! I wish that were the exception, but it’s not.
Another client was recently referred to me who treated his long term back pain with western medicine, until that didn’t work anymore. When he came to see me, he was a mess, and looking for the “magic wand”. I developed a treatment plan and after just 4 sessions, he was pain free!
Don’t ignore what’s happening in your body. When you feel pain, address it. Pain is a request for change. Believe me, I understand the draw of reaching for the bottle of ibuprofen or tylenol and sometimes that is just fine. But if the symptoms keep coming back, it’s time to get help.
Don’t let that nagging pain in your neck go for a long time. One of my clients had poor posture throughout his lifetime. Because he ignored his pain for so long, the body stabilized areas of dysfunction with bracing, which contracted the spine and eventually caused vertebra to fuse.
Think of it this way: If you’re changing the oil in your car more often than getting massage or bodywork, you are definitely taking care of the wrong vehicle. After all, if you don’t care of your body, where will you live?