Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2012

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best practices BUSINESS SIDE | Q & ART | TABLE LESSONS | SAVVY SELF-CARE The Long and Short of It Strategies for Softening Tight Muscles By Art Riggs Q DEAR TUG, It is excellent that you distinguish between these two situations; many bodyworkers automatically dive in to soften tight muscles without considering their length and how that might influence structure and movement. Either short or long muscles may present the same uncomfortable symptoms of pain or spasm in our clients, but each arises from very different causes that will necessitate different strategies. Most muscles have an antagonist that has the A opposite action for movement or stability. Often, these opposing muscles vie for dominance, creating chronic tension and fatigue in the body. This attempt for a compromise in comfort or posture is a bit like having the heater and air conditioner blowing at full power. The Freedom from Pain Institute's Erik Dalton often DEAR ART, Can you please explain the difference between a short and tight muscle and a long and tight muscle and how each affects your strategy in a bodywork session? —TUG OF WAR points out that we have a flexion-based culture that creates imbalance between the front and back of the body. Feldenkrais Method originator Moshe Feldenkrais and many others also have pointed out that the flexors usually win the battle, especially as we age, so that our bodies morph into a forward curve of flexion. This results in short and tight flexors that dominate long extensors, which are equally tight in their unsuccessful attempts to create balance. Your clients may experience similar discomfort in these opposing muscles, but the causes and resolutions will be markedly different. COMPETING PATTERNS Let's look at a couple of simplified examples of this phenomenon and how posture and, therefore, tension in the body are affected. Celebrate ABMP's 25th anniversary and you may win a refund on your membership. 29

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