Just Sore Muscles or More?

-  Submitted by Holly Rigney PT, DPT. 

Why are my muscles sore to the touch?  What keeps me from gaining mobility even when I am doing my stretches every day?  Why is my pain continuing even though I'm doing my exercises?  Many things influence our ability to move pain free and participate in the activities we enjoy.  Strength, neuromuscular control (the connections between the muscle and the brain), muscle length, joint mobility, and fascia, among many others. 

Do you have “slide and glide”?

Fascia is a white connective tissue that covers muscles.  We need a certain amount of "'slide and glide" between the muscle and the tissues that surround it to allow for normal function.  When this does not occur, a "densification" or thickness of the tissue occurs, resulting in decreased mobility, pain with movement, and tenderness to the touch.  Amongst these layers of thickened tissues, we have a fluid that serves as a lubricant.  This is called hyaluronic acid and it encourages the normal movement between muscle and the soft tissue covering it, also known as fascia.  Hyaluronic acid also becomes more viscous, decreasing mobility.  In short, the muscle cannot function properly.   

Will massage work the same as manual therapy?

The remedy for this is simple, a therapist will identify the plane of motion that is restricted (flexion/extension or "front to back motion", abduction/adduction or "side-to-side motion", or a horizontal plane, "rotational" movement restriction.  For each movement within the body, a specific portion of the soft tissue has to move to allow this movement to be accomplished.  Your therapist, who has doctoral level training in anatomy and musculoskeletal conditions, can identify this area and treat conservatively with his/her own hands. No invasive techniques are required.  Fascial manipulation is a manual technique different than massage and requires specialized training.  Fascial restrictions have been known to limit mobility, contribute to headaches and vertigo-like symptoms, cause pain, interfere with balance, and contribute to sprains/strains.  Please see a therapist at Loudoun Physical Therapy to find out about how this and other techniques can be effective at returning you to your highest level of function.

-  Submitted by Holly Rigney PT, DPT. 

About Holly Rigney PT, DPT

Holly is a native of Harrisonburg VA in the Shenandoah Valley. She received her Bachelor's degree in Health & Exercise Sciences from Bridgewater College and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Lynchburg College. She has a variety of experiences treating all patients from across the spectrum, including skilled nursing, outpatient, and home health sciences. Holly is trained in Fascial Manipulation, a manual technique which restores soft tissue mobility thus increasing joint range of motion and decreasing pain. She also enjoys utilizing Postural Restoration Therapy to restore optimal positioning of the patient. In her spare time, Holly enjoys spending time with her husband, Zane, and their dog, Ruger, as well as skiing, hiking, and biking.

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