Friday, January 20, 2012

Breaking muscle spasms - more than a basic stretch

This week, I've seen a couple instances of some pretty intense muscle spasms. Spasms can range from being momentary irritations to being days-long, debilitatingly painful conditions, which can lead to additional complications (including muscle strains) if not released. Spasms can have a variety of causes, including a host of things that put the offending muscle into poor holding or movement patterns (here's a nice little article with more on causes of spasms).  With spasms, there is a neurological component.  The muscle is deciding to fire (contract) without instruction from the brain.  Then, when the brain tells the muscle to fire, it might only manage to contract even harder, causing more pain.  Fun, right?  So the key is to break this firing loop and get the muscle to properly follow the brain's instructions.

For most of us, instinct tells us to stretch the offending muscle when it starts to go into one of those more minor spasms. And after hanging out in that stretch for a little bit, our spasm subsides and we can go back to life. But what if the muscle just doesn't want to comply and stop spasming?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Flexibility vs. Mobility

This week I'm trying something new, and posting a video blog.  I wanted to address the concepts of flexibility and joint mobility, and how they are interrelated, yet different.

A brief note on my video - I use the shoulder as an example because it's easy for me to make sure it's in the frame.  As a result, my example of capsular inhibition sounds an awful lot like frozen shoulder.  It's very similar, but please don't confuse this for information regarding frozen shoulder syndrome - at best, this would be an incomplete picture of frozen shoulder.

Hip Mobility Sequence from Mario at Crossfit on the Square (use this to help improve the capsular mobility in the hips):