Muscle Guarding | Ravenswood Chiropractic in Andersonville
Muscle Guarding Explained
Before a foot race, a runner gets into position, poised to take off with a burst of strength and speed the moment the starting pistol fires. The condition of this runner’s muscles at the time following getting into position and preceding the starting pistol firing is a prime example of “muscle guarding”.
Muscles can be held in a position of readiness to act much like when the body experiences the stress response (better known as the “fight or flight” syndrome). When this happens, the muscles are not in a state of relaxation at all, but rather partially contracted in preparation for some action needing to be taken (or, quite often, action that the brain simply perceives as needing to be taken).
Another familiar example is when a person treats a formerly injured but now healed muscle tenderly, even tentatively, out of fear of re-injuring it. This too is muscle guarding.
Because of such physical demands (as for an athlete or performer), fears (as for a patient recovering from an injury), or chronic stresses (as for most of the working class), a muscle can become accustomed to the guarded (semi-contracted) position and remain that way, as though that were its natural state.
What Does Muscle Guarding Feel Like?
When a person’s body is muscle guarding, they experience soreness, tenderness, and pain around the affected area, as well as tension of the tendons. What’s worse, all of these symptoms only end up validating to the brain the appropriateness of the muscle guarding and reinforcing the need to continue doing so.
Consequences of Continued Muscle Guarding
A common consequence of muscle guarding is muscle fatigue, not only of the muscle in question but those supporting and opposing muscles forced to compensate for the muscle being guarded.
Another possible repercussion of muscle guarding is the inappropriate and potentially harmful hair-trigger firing of some of the body’s reflexes.
The irony about muscle guarding is that the innate intelligence of the body has the muscles in question “believing” that they must be guarded so in order to protect the full body from possible further harm. As it turns out, though, this muscle guarding is more likely to cause further potential harm than that which the body is aiming to prevent by muscle guarding.
At its core, muscle guarding is an effort by the body to defend itself against a perceived threat (whether remembered, anticipated, or actually present). But when no threat is present and the muscle guarding persists, then the behavior has the opposite effect, promoting more problems than it aims to resolve.
Chiropractors Can Detect and Effectively Treat Muscle Guarding
A chiropractor can recognize muscle guarding as stiffness resisting any movement being imposed by outside forces (such as massage or a chiropractic manipulation).
Chronic muscle guarding is a subconscious phenomenon that requires conscious relaxation and release to eliminate. Such release can be facilitated by way of chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, physiotherapy, and acupuncture, though to maintain the newly acquired “unguarded” state, the individual is best served by carrying the more balanced state promoted by such chiropractic manipulations with them into their everyday lives .
Chiropractic treatment has proven particularly effective for those suffering from headaches and low back pain. By treating neuromusculoskeletal disorders, restoring mobility, and relieving pain, chiropractic therapy can be the treatment of choice for headache and back pain sufferers whether it be the result of an accident, strain, disease, stress, bad posture … etc.
Call us today and schedule an appointment to see how chiropractic therapy may help you.