It’s Not Just Tight Muscles

!It is uncanny how often I hear someone tell me that they have tight muscles that need to be released in order for their pain to go away.⁣⁣I don’t blame the patient at all.

They are most often just recalling what they have been told by a previous provider or have read online, which is where this belief pattern starts.⁣⁣It is then often strengthened through gaining relief from soft tissue therapies.⁣⁣

Naturally, the thought process goes…

🔹 I feel like I have tight, stiff muscles.

🔹 I’m told I have tight muscles causing pain.

🔹 This confirms what I feel.⁣

🔹 Therapy given to release said stiff muscles.⁣

🔹 Relief obtained.⁣

🔹 Relief must be because of physical changes.⁣

🔹 Belief confirmed and strengthened.⁣⁣

Then, as so often happens, the perception of stiffness comes back, and it is assumed that the muscle has gone back to it’s previous state and another treatment is needed.⁣⁣

Over time, this can lead to frustration and/or reductions in self efficacy.⁣⁣You can apply this narrative to at home stretching / rolling or professional therapies. ⁣⁣In that, you end up riding the symptom modification roller coaster without ever acknowledging other potential contributors to your pain.⁣⁣

That’s where research like this paper is so important.⁣⁣They showed that muscle stiffness is the same in women with and without chronic neck pain but those with pain perceive higher levels of stiffness. ⁣⁣The muscles PHYSICALLY were the same.⁣ So it makes us question what all these therapies are doing and how necessary they really are

.⁣⁣Based on this and previous literature, it would seem that they should primarily be viewed as options to alter sensation temporarily, but not for long term structural change.

⁣⁣And that’s ok!

⁣⁣Just know what things are doing and what they’re not.⁣