The Muscle Pain and Spasm Cycle

Your muscle pain is the build-up of metabolic toxic wastes and oxygen starved muscle tissues.

And no this is not always caused by an injury. You can develop muscle pain and spasms without an actual injury. There are many internal circumstances that can lead to pain and dysfunction; poor or habitual posture, long periods of sitting, habitual emotional stress that causes chronic muscle contractions can all function like an injury internally.

And if these habits are kept up for any prolonged period of time, more serious complications may arise resulting in weakening of your entire system.

What is happening in the pain/spasm cycle?

This vicious cycle is a result of a reflex reaction to even the smallest amount of tissue damage; pain sensory signals are transferred to the motor neurons in the spinal cord that are associated with the muscle cells in the injured area. This reflex reaction from the spinal cord stimulates muscle tissues surrounding the injury to contract in order to protect or offer support to the injured tissue. What starts out as a good thing can turn bad when sustained for a long period of time. This reflex reaction can cause more damage to the surrounding muscle tissues than the original injury.

This complex situation can become widespread and cause even more pain to the original injury while creating a new pain to the surrounding muscle tissues. Ischemia is a sustained muscle contraction that reduces blood flow through the capillaries in the constricted area. This restriction and the lack of oxygenated blood getting into the muscle tissues can be very painful. And again this can happen not only to the original injury but also the surrounding muscle tissues.

Now you have two sources of pain:

  1. The original injury that is causing muscular contractions,
  2. The secondary ischemia that has been started up and accelerated by the sustained muscular contractions.

The more serious problem with muscle pain

Chronic emotional anxiety may be develop if this injury is situated in a critical area (i.e. near the spine, ribs or diaphragm). These areas complicate both the pain symptoms and the healing process. These same areas when inflicted with pain symptoms can make every motion and every breath painful which causes bracing reactions and emotional anxiety especially if your tolerance to pain is low.

The increased anxiety and emotional stress from sustained muscle contractions will lead to oxygen starved muscle tissues and prevent toxic metabolic wastes from properly circulating out of the muscle tissues. This buildup of toxic metabolic wastes can be poisonous to the muscle cells and cause a weakening of the entire system leaving you open to serious problems. Your resistance to all sorts of pathological developments are more acute leading you to any number of diseases, inflections and viruses which can be  the only the first step.

Toxic wastes may eventually start to eat up muscle cells killing them outright which now your body begins to form as scar tissue and fibrosis. Fibrosis can permanently limit the ability for connective tissues to lengthen and stretch preventing movement.  These toxins (lactic acids) can buildup to the point where they will periodically start depositing small amounts into the bloodstream affecting not only your local muscle tissues and cells but also your nervous system.

All this can be happening right now to your body without you even knowing it.Why? Because your lifestyle has you running in a “fight or flight” mode constantly from processed foods, on-the-go hectic work schedules, stress, sugar and caffeinated drinks that are numbing you to your body’s alert system.Solution? Slow this system down, break the cycle, stop this vicious cycle of oxygen starved muscles and metabolic waste buildup with a massage.

Resource: “A Handbook For Bodywork” Job’s Body by Deane Juhan.


Posted on August 9, 2011, in clinical massage therapy, massage, massage therapy, myofascial release, Pain Management, Soft Tissue, sport massage. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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