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Muscles move our bones as directed by our desires. To graphically discover more about muscles, purchase a package of chicken from your local grocery store meat department. Take it home, pull off the skin and examine the meat. It looks very much like human muscle. Notice how the chicken muscles are attached to the bone - very similar to human muscle attachments. Practice massaging your chicken muscle. . . Well, it might be to slippery.
Contrary to popular believe, tight rigid muscles are not healthy. When muscles work, the fibers contract or tighten. Once the work is completed, relaxation is necessary so that the fibers can release their natural by-products. Upon release, these by-products flush out of the muscle and are replaced by fresh fluids.

In our hustle and bustle world, we do not often allow our muscles to fully relax after we work them. Instead, we are in a chronic state of being half relaxed and half tensed, ready for action. This state restricts the release of by-products, and blocks the entrance of fresh nutrients. Consequently, our energy is depleted and we do not function at a peak level of performance. Rather than flushing out, the by-products become trapped in the muscle fibers and start accumulating. At this point the carbon dioxide and lactic acid turn into toxic irritants to the fibers causing soreness and tender "knots". Those "knots" are accumulations of the trapped by-products.

The congestion in the muscles can be alleviated by a regular massage routine. The steady, constant, sensitive pressure applied during massage will encourage the muscle to fatigue and finally relax, facilitating the release of the trapped toxins. This sometimes takes a great deal of patience for both the person receiving and the person giving the massage. Congested areas are usually very sensitive to pressure and can be relieved only a little at a time. It took quite a while for this congestion to accumulate. It will likely be relieved by not just one, but several massages over a period of time.
As the fibers relax, they will release the trapped toxins. Relief is inevitable. Muscles will feel much freer; much looser. Once this process has been initiated by the massage, release usually continues for an additional 10 to 24 hours afterward.

The physical release of this congestion often triggers an emotional release. The absence of muscle tension is accompanied by a peaceful sense of harmony and well being.

Some of our muscles are involuntary and some are voluntary. Involuntary muscles work without us consciously directing them such as the heart beating. In contrast, the voluntary muscles must be told what to do. Our brain sends a message and the muscles respond. Sometimes these voluntary muscles seem to act involuntarily. "Did I tell my shoulder muscles to stay tense for months on end?" Our command might not have been "tense" but rather "be strong, be responsible". The body translated this message with our definition of strength, i.e. "tense the shoulder muscles like you are holding a great weight". Most chronic muscle tension stems from some fearful belief that we have established for ourselves. For example, we may believe that "if I relax, everything will fall apart" or "if I relax, others will see me as lazy and irresponsible" or "if I relax, I'll appear weak".

Ironically, we may eventually learn that it takes more strength to relax and let go than to tense and hold on. It's just very hard to believe that we don't need to hold the world up on our shoulders like Atlas. It's very hard to trust that there is order in the universe, and that we don't need to hold the world up because it hangs in perfect balance anyway. If we could believe it, a great load would be off our shoulders!

Next: How To Massage Skeletal




© 1988 Nancy Blachly All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form
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