I’m sure you must’ve heard this: “If you want to have a strong back, your stomach should be strong too”. It is true, but obviously there needs to be a good balance between the back and stomach muscles.
Look at any image of a fetus or newborn and note that pretty much everything is flexed (this means that a joint is approximated, or closed together): the neck, back, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, knees, ankles, and probably the toes also. The fetal position is the position in which we are formed for nine months, and so the body tends to continuously and naturally curl into flexion throughout life as well (due to various factors). These muscle groups are called flexors (benders), and the opposite muscle groups to these are called extensors (straighteners). Extensors open up joints or straighten them out away from each other. Example: in the front of the upper arm, the bicep is an elbow bender, and the triceps at the back of the upper arm is an elbow straightener. Take the same principle and apply it to the torso … the abdominals and hip flexors are the torso benders and the back muscles are the torso straighteners (this is all actually far more complex, but the basic idea is right). Now, for another concept … to you, as the bearer of sore muscles and the recipient of massage, there are “tight muscles”. I work with the knowledge of what is “tight-long” and “tight short” and how they effect each other. Because flexors bring joints together in a closing fashion and do a lot of heavy work, they tend to be short-tight as they’re contracted more frequently. When the short-tightness gets pathological in nature (really short & tight and full of triggerpoint knots)), it creates a pull or a stretch in the opposite muscle group, often creating aches and pains in that area. When you come to me with pain between the shoulder blades, this explains why I focus first on your chest and shoulders, then your back. Or if you have low back pain, I’ll often focus on the oblique abdominal muscles or hip flexors first. Abdominal triggerpoints can cause an impressive array of symptoms which can be mistaken for: heartburn, appendicitis, hernia, gallstones, ulcers, heart disease, indigestion, and stomach cancer. They can actually cause nausea, vomiting loss of appetite, colic, stomach cramps, diarrhea, bloating or burning in the abdomen, bladder spasms; pain during menses, pain felt in the ovaries, uterus, vagina, penis, testicles, and last, but not least: pain in broad horizontal bands in the back. What causes the triggerpoints in the first place?? Job or athletic overexertion, sit-ups and leg-ups, sitting in a twisted position, chronic cough, emotional stress is a big one, internal disease, and abdominal surgery (including Caesarian sections), injuries to the abdomen or pelvis such as falling hard on the buttocks. Should you have any of the above noted confounding symptoms that physicians cannot find any reason for, perhaps it’s your stomach muscles! You just might be surprised at how sore and knotty they can be!