Often times my patients tell me that any time they experience mild muscle tension or knots, they typically think “it will work itself out.” They will wait days or even weeks to make an appointment.
Muscle tightness is typically caused by posture related stress, muscle overuse and fatigue or knots forming somewhere along the muscle belly. Generally, muscles cannot loosen up on their own. Without addressing any of these problems your muscles won’t return to normal without some type of intervention. Although the sensation you’re experiencing may subside in a few days, that doesn’t mean that your muscle is “fixed.”
I do not recommend delaying treatment for a few reasons:
- When a muscle is tight, your range of motion (ROM) is reduced, prohibiting you from using it 100%. In turn, synergistic muscles become limited as well, especially if they work over a joint. This leads to a domino effect of muscles becoming stiff or rigid from lack of movement.
- Lack of movement of the muscle also causes reduced blood flow to the area. Blood flow aids in the exchange of nutrients to and from the area, keeping muscles moving smoothly and properly.
- Fascia can build up from disuse, causing muscles to “stick” to the surrounding skin creating further tension.
Manual therapy of the muscle such as massage, foam rolling, rolling with a lacrosse ball or a massage gun can reduce the effects listed above. Combining it with heat and stretching can reduce discomfort from muscle tightness and prevent the risk of further injury.
If you don’t make the time to care for your muscles then your muscles ensure you make the time. That is why I recommend massage therapy as soon as possible post injury to increase your muscles’ range of motion and help your body return to moving cohesively.