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Understanding Muscle

Skeletal muscle is the most abundant tissue in the body. It makes up roughly 40-45% of the body’s overall weight. Muscles have a high degree of pliability and elasticity, its primary function is to contract in order to produce the acceleration, deceleration or the static position of skeletal structures.

With such a large amount of muscle present in the body it is not surprising that there are so many related injuries. Factors that contribute to injuries include: Overuse, Muscle Imbalances, Metabolic Stress and Fatigue. These factors lead to decreased pliability and elasticity in the muscle. Common muscular problems that include: Strain (tear), Contusion (dead leg), Atrophy (muscle wasting), Hypertonicity (tightness) and Trigger points (pain referring nodule).

A strain is a muscle tear caused by excessive tensile stress on a muscle. Muscles that cross multiple joints e.g. Hamstring muscles are more likely to be damaged in this way. Strains can occur anywhere in the muscle but usually happen at the musculotendinous junction (where muscle joins with tendon). There are 3 grades of muscles strains. 1 being a mild tear to 3 being a full rupture.

 A contusion is usually caused by a direct impact to the muscle e.g. a dead leg. It causes disruption in the muscle fibres, nerve and vascular supply. There are two types of haematomas: INTERmuscular and INTRAmuscular haematomas. Bruising and swelling generally occurs with intermuscular haematomas. Intramuscular is more serious as the build up of pressure due to swelling and bleeding inside the muscle cannot be released and going to your GP is advised.

Muscle atrophy is loss or impairment of nerve supply to the muscle. It can be caused by nerve compression, systemic diseases and trauma to spinal cord. It can cause a lack of Strength and muscle loss leading to bad biomechanics and further injury.

Hypertonicity is muscle tightness. It is this tightness that prevents the muscle from stretching to its full capacity, moving in its regular range of motion and as a result this tightness leads to bad biomechanics causing further problems.

Trigger points: Trigger points are palpable nodules in taught bands of muscle. These nodules can cause referred pain, tenderness and motor dysfunction. Trigger points are caused by postural distress, metabolic problems, and sleep disturbances weak and hypertonic muscles.

Any problems be sure to contact your therapist.

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