“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” – Hippocrates
Not everyone wants to be an athlete. But almost everyone wants to be healthy and fit. The problem with that is two-fold:
- How much exercise is enough?
- How much exercise is too much?
What Does It Mean to be “In Shape?”
In the United States, especially in places like Northern California, being fit and working out are almost obsessive pursuits for a vast number of people. Yet, few of us are really clear on what our objectives and goals should be when we begin to “get in shape” and exercise.
As one medical center put it,
“Being in shape and being healthy are not the same thing. Some people view being thin as being in shape. You can be thin and be healthy, but being thin doesn’t make you healthy. Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, and some are thinner than others. If your definition of being in shape means being thin, you might eat less food than your body needs to be healthy. People can be in their desired shape and not be healthy.”
Even a Business Insider article quoted an exercise scientist at Rutgers University who weighed in on this question (no pun intended!),
“Generally the way we define it is that your cardiovascular endurance — your cardiorespiratory endurance — is good enough that you don’t easily get winded. So your VO2 max is above average, in terms of oxygen consumption.
It can also mean having a good level of body fat — I don’t want to say low — because obviously you don’t want to go too low with body fat (there’s other problems there), but a healthy [level of] body fat is probably the best way to look at it. Where you’re considered lean, most people consider that “in shape.”
The consensus among fitness experts and others in the field is that “being fit” or “being in shape” can be described and measured by these key fitness metrics:
- aerobic fitness (maximal oxygen consumption)
- muscular strength (functional strength)
- body composition (measure of lean mass)
- power (ability to rapidly adjust with muscle contraction)
- flexibility (movement and mobility)
Consequently, in our society as in many regions around the world, exercise and working out are often the means for attaining a desired level of fitness and “getting in shape.”
“Use It or Lose It” and the Dangers of Muscle Overuse
Serious athletes and others are prone to this problem: unintentional overuse of certain muscles or muscle groups while exercising, working out, or competing. And the results can be both painful and damaging.
According to the Hospital for Special Surgery’s website,
“When muscles (and other soft tissues) are overused, three types of problems may result
- Acute conditions such as pulls, tears, muscle spasm or contracture, etc.
- Small tears resulting from repetitive motion (also known as micro-trauma)
- Hypoxia or a lack of oxygen to the injured area
Your body responds to these occurrences by producing tough, dense scar tissue in the problem area. This scar tissue restricts healthy tissues, preventing them from moving freely. As more scar tissue builds, your muscles weaken and become shorter, nerves can become trapped, and the tension that is placed on the tendons might even cause tendon inflammation or tendonitis. Eventually, all of this leads to a reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. In cases where a nerve is trapped, you might experience tingling, numbness, and weakness as well.”
When this occurs, the pain can be simply annoying and can diminish over time. However, too often the pain persists and can even become a chronic condition. And that is where Active Release Technique® therapy can be most beneficial.
Treating Pain from Muscle Overuse
Active Release Technique® or ART® is a patented soft tissue technique that treats the cause of pain problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia (connective tissue), and nerves.
There are several musculoskeletal conditions that can benefit from treatment with ART®. And these conditions all have one important aspect in common: they are frequently the result of overused muscles, which can cause muscle spasm, scar tissue, and even the eventual loss of function within a region of the body.
So, what makes Active Release Technique® different from other techniques?
The major difference between ART® and other bodywork techniques is that, during treatment with Active Release Technique®, the patient actively moves the affected structure (i.e., a muscle or ligament) while the practitioner presses or maintains contact on the injured area. This allows the practitioner to feel the structure as it moves under their contact, and to effectively treat those restricted muscles, tendons, or ligaments.
As the ART® website notes,
“The provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness, and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements.”
The result, from a combination of pressure and tension by the practitioner and movement on the part of the client, is that these abnormal tissues such as collagen fibers and scar tissue are broken up – restoring normal range of motion and blood flow – restoring pain-free movement, endurance, and strength.
Getting in Shape and Staying Pain-Free with Pain and Performance Solutions
Despite our best efforts, sometimes while living our daily lives, pain can develop. And the first step in recovering from that pain – and eventually being pain-free – is when we get to know you and your pain issues.
Once you make your first appointment, we’ll want to learn about your present discomfort as well as any history of pain.
After providing you with a full examination, we can determine which form of treatment is needed to help you on your road to recovery.
Often, when pain occurs, our bodies will try to compensate for the pain in order to allow us to get through the day with less pain. However, because our bodies have shifted that pain around to compensate for our discomfort, this often leads to other areas of pain.
Getting chronic pain relief with therapies such as Active Release Technique® and Anatomy in Motion can only begin when we can understand where your pain started. That could mean it started previously with another injury you might have sustained.
Your trust in us and your transparency is key. Getting your body to work properly and healthy is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any, and all questions that you may have.