Friday, April 12, 2013

Massage Therapy to Benefit Your Muscle Memory

Massage feels good, and that's the part which is most easily understood, but it can also help with the muscle memory of traumatized muscles.
The need for touch has been around since before human beings. Apes have a need for touch and even give each other back-rubs. Dogs need touch, as even wild dogs demonstrate that tactile interaction among members of a pack is essential to well-being. So the art of massage was probably developed early on in human society. But beyond the need for interpersonal contact, what does massage do to the human body, scientifically?
Muscle Tissue, Memory and Massage
Anyone who has played a sport, stopped for a long period of time, and then taken it up again, understands what is meant by muscle memory. As soon as the fitness cobwebs have been blown out of the system, the physical movements and skill they had once attained by playing the sport return quite easily. They don't have to start from scratch with their development. This is summarized by the 'Once you've learnt to ride a bike - you will never forget" example.
But just like some memories of past events are good, some are also bad. In massage therapy after an auto-accident, the effort focuses on retraining and resetting the muscles through massage. To muscles, even those not directly damaged in an accident, the impact of an accident is similar to dropping a large weight on a loaf of bread. The muscles are the squished, traumatized bread. And what massage does in this instance is to reform the muscles, and reset the brain (where sit the muscle memories, or maybe it can also be thought of as a kind of map) to allow the muscles to release, and like the loaf of bread, regain their proper shape and consistency.
Massage also can be thought of as kind of a "defragmenting" routine like you'll do to your hard-drive. Massage gets out all junk that has built up and reforms the muscles back to their proper order. When this happens the body relaxes, the brain becomes convinced nothing is wrong which requires stiffening and bracing, and you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Stress and anxiety can be relieved by massage for this reason.
Your brain is where you are, but you are not in control of portions of your brain. It's like part of your brain doesn't know you are there. So, using an accident as an example again, when the brain thinks there is danger, and it's got to keep the muscles tense, because a short time ago they experienced a severe impact, the brain also looks for events to attach the sense of danger too. Small problems in life become amplified by the brain for this reason, and thus the subsequent anxiety.
A good massage therapist knows how to touch and persuade the muscles to report to the brain, "Everything's OK here. In fact this feels pretty good." This allows the brain to turn down its anxiety producing mechanisms.
So as well as the touch of massage allowing people and animals to feel good, it also effects muscle memory and subconscious memory linked to trauma.
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