WTF is Muscle Hygiene?
What is muscle hygiene you may be wondering?
You are probably familiar with the concept of dental hygiene. Same idea just with your muscles and soft tissue.
Many people put a lot of wear and tear on their bodies in their day to day living and often do not take the time for repair and recovery. If you are an athlete, have a job that requires repetitive movements, put high output demands on your body daily, even people who sit at a computer all day, this constant use and abuse to your muscles and soft tissue requires maintenance, repair, and recovery to keep up with life.
So, let’s go back to the dental hygiene concept. Firstly, as we use our muscles (just like our teeth when we eat and drink) they get dirty. To care for our teeth and prevent decay we bush, we floss, daily. Our muscles are the same. They are used daily. Metabolic waste is created when muscles move. This can lead to restriction; muscles get tight, spasms can occur. These things require maintenance, or muscle hygiene.
When left unaddressed these issues can lead to inflammation, tendonitis, bursitis, joint dysfunction, arthritis, joint replacements, and general immobility due to pain or discomfort. Sounds dramatic, but think about it. If we don’t practice good regular oral care it can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, dentures, and poor health. It’s the same with our muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and joints.
What we can do on a daily basis?
Integrating good hydration habits, regular stretching (no one ever became limber in one 10 second stretch. It’s a cumulative process), self-massage techniques (more on all that in other blogs) and just like you go for those teeth cleanings, you need to schedule regular massage. For most people once per month is sufficient. If you have a soft tissue issue that is more acute, you may need appointments closer together in the beginning (commonly once week). As your injury or issue heals, gets healthier and you are getting treatment to treatment pain free you can extend the length of time between appointments.
Ultimately, we are looking for that place where you start to feel tight and not quite achy, but if you went longer you would start feeling limited with your movement. This is your body’s rhythm. It is my experience that everyone’s body has a rhythm. You may only know that feeling after getting massage consistently. Experiencing the contrast between feeling tight and contracted versus feeling relaxed, free, and at ease in your own skin. Usually it takes about 3 sessions. You will become aware of the feeling of relaxed muscles, a feeling of length and freedom/ease of movement.
Clients report, “I feel taller” or “I needed to readjust my rear-view mirror” or a feeling of “airy-ness” or “I feel so light”.