PAIN: Pain is an sign that there is a problem. When there is pain involved, muscles will spasm and tighten up as a protection and stability mechanism. Before splints and braces were invented, in order to protect and stabilize an injury, the body relied on muscle spasms.
ADHESIONS: Connective tissues in our bodies allow smooth motion to occur. An adhesion is an area in a muscle where the connective tissue is sticking to other layers of connective tissue. These adhesions restrict the normal motion of muscles and don’t allow them to lengthen normally.
NERVE ENTRAPMENTS: A nerve entrapment occurs when an adhesion forms next to a nerve. This entrapment doesn’t permit the nerve to move freely. Nerves don’t stretch so when they are stuck to a muscle, the muscles surrounding the nerve will spasm. This spasm is an attempt by the muscle to stop the nerve from pulling.
TRIGGER POINTS: When multiple adhesions form in a muscle, the accumulation of these adhesions forms a knot. When the muscle can no longer compensate for the knot, it starts to refer. to pain in a pattern specific to the involved muscle. Generally, a trigger point is a knot starting to refer to pain. Because pain is involved, muscles will tighten/spasm to protect the area.
As stated above, stretching is beneficial when used in conjunction with other techniques. A common goal when dealing with an injury to soft tissue is breaking up the connective tissue that is forming adhesions. Once these adhesions are removed, stretching can then be performed to help lengthen the freed tissue. Exercise is also recommended so the new connective tissue being laid down can be set in the correct formation based on how a muscle will be used.