Muscle contraction : how to relieve it?
As the name implies, muscle contracture is "a muscle that contracts to limit joint movement to protect an underlying problem.
Photo Alexy Almond in Pexels
Usually a joint problem such as a stiff neck, low back pain, but also an infection such as appendicitis, for example in the case of 'abdominal defense'," explains Raphaële Pouret, an osteopath.
What are the symptoms of a muscle contracture?
"A muscle contracture results in a muscle that is difficult to touch and painful," explains the osteopath.
These symptoms lead to a limitation of movement.
And if the muscle contracture can be confused with a cramp, it is important to know that the latter is very ephemeral, while the muscle contracture lasts several days.
Why do we have a contracture?
The appearance of a muscle contracture can have different causes.
"The causes are stress, a bad lifestyle, fatigue, excessive sedentariness, bad posture and the practice of sports, especially when we don't warm up enough, use our muscles too much and don't hydrate ourselves enough," says the osteopath.
The contracture can occur at any age, even if, as the years go by, the older muscle gets more tired.
What to do in case of muscle contracture?
"The first reflex you have to have is to apply heat to the contracture to relax the muscle and have a good vascularization", advises Raphaële Pouret.
Then stretch as much as possible without forcing. The stretch differs according to the location of the contracture.
In case of neck contracture (torticollis): "Gently turn your head to the left, then to the right and then back and forth several times in a row.
The shoulders can also be moved back and then forward. And work on breathing by lengthening it, to open up the chest," the osteopath advises.
In case of contracture at arm level: "If the contracture is at forearm level, stretch the arm in front of you and pull the fingers back, stretch the arm back to stretch the biceps, and forward to stretch the posterior broad muscle," says the osteopath.
In case of contracture of the gluteal muscles: "Lie down on your back, bend your legs to 90°, bend the leg on the side of the contracture on the other leg, pass your hands between the two legs and pull gently, recommends Raphaële Pouret.
This stretches the pyriform muscle which, when contracted, can lead to sciatica. »
In case of thigh contracture: what frequently happens to soccer players in the adductor area, "lying on the floor, stretch the leg sideways to stretch the inner part", recommends the osteopath.
"Muscle contracture requires not to force, but to continue moving so as not to "soften" the muscles, advises the osteopath. It can be treated in one or three sessions of osteopathy from 45 minutes to 1 hour. »
Thinking about essential oils
Two essential oils can be used to treat muscle contracture: wintergreen and lemon eucalyptus.
- Dilute 3 drops of essential oil of wintergreen in 3 drops of arnica or hazelnut vegetable oil. Then massage the contracted area twice a day.
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