The Role of Connective Tissue in Muscular Tension

Connective tissue, or fascia, has a vital and complex role throughout the entire body, but is particularly important when understanding the causes of muscular tension and pain. One way that connective tissue influences and affects muscular tension is through the bodies response to mechanical load or force. One of the most common examples of this is shoulder and neck tension from sitting in front of a computer or from looking down with a flexed neck at your iphone/ipad.

When looking at a screen for long periods, the muscles that flex the neck (agonists) are held in a shortened position and the muscles at the back of the neck and shoulders (antagonists) are held in a lengthened position, or a stretch under tension (eccentrically loaded). The body responds to this tension by laying down collagen fibres along the lines of tension, effectively turning the antagonist muscles into a supportive strap. These collagen fibres can restrict normal blood flow to the muscle, reduce it’s ability to receive oxygen and nutrients, and impede the ability to expel waste; leading to hypertonic muscles that are often stiff and sore to touch.

In cases like this, massage can be of great benefit. By lengthening the shortened muscles and breaking down the restrictive collagen fibres in the lengthened muscles, massage can restore normal muscle function to the body. Returning restricted muscle to a normal functioning state will have the added benefit of reducing pain, promoting faster recovery from exercise and improving exercise performance.

To find out more about how massage can be of benefit to you, contact Chris at Chapel Fitness St Kilda on 0416 473 740.