Straight off, let me say that the massage I am talking about is nothing like that nice soothing process involving oils, scented candles and much relaxing. While I am indeed aiming to relax certain muscles, and I use my hands to achieve that, it is much more specifically targeted than that holiday-type massage.
Originally Chiropractic was all about the joints – and many Chiropractors still choose to operate on this assumption. However, at Shifnal Chiropractic, we believe that the tissues surrounding the joints are every bit as important – after all, if the muscles move the joint, and the joint is unable to move correctly, it stands to reason that the muscle will develop a problem as well. Similarly, it is possible that tension in the muscle is behind the inability of a joint to move as freely as it should. Either way, we believe the joints and muscles are inextricably linked, and both are capable of causing a significant amount of pain for you.
While your Chiropractor is examining you, they will spend some time evaluating any tension present in the muscles around the area of your complaint. Once these points are located, the Chiropractor will use pressure to ease the knots out of the fibres and restore the muscle to its fully relaxed state.
Muscles are made up of lots of interlocking fibres, which (for those of you with a mechanical mind!) use a ratchet-type system to haul adjacent fibres along each other to contract the muscle. When the signal comes for that muscle to relax, the ratchet is supposed to release and the muscle springs back to its nice long and loose positioning. When there is a problem in the muscle, however, this system sometimes breaks down and instead of going right the way back to its starting position, the muscle fibres sometimes catch half way along each other, causing an incomplete relaxation. This can occur throughout a whole muscle (think of your shoulder muscles when you get stressed!) or at a specific point within the muscle, which we call a trigger point.
This failure of the muscle to relax, if not addressed, can get worse and worse; in some cases it can even go into a full-blown muscle spasm.
Massage is a very straight forward process – press on the points in the muscle where the fibres have failed to fully disengage, and you encourage the fibres to let go and return to their long and relaxed places. Chiropractors are extremely good at this technique, as our in-depth knowledge of the muscular anatomy of the human body allows us to know exactly where all the muscles in your body start and finish, and therefore which direction the fibres run in. This allows your Chiropractor to work along the length of the fibre to smooth the muscle out and relieve your symptoms.