Are you a twitcher?!!
I don’t mean do you carry round a set of binoculars and some bird seed!
It’s more to do with your muscles! (Tenuous link maybe? Read on and find out! )
I am in the business of muscles! Muscles fascinate me!
We have 3 types of muscles in our body; cardiac (heart), smooth (intestines) and skeletal (the ones that make our body move!)
Let’s concentrate on skeletal muscles, approx 640 of them! They usually sit in pairs as it’s a ‘pull me, pull you’ deal!
What are muscles and what are they made of?
Imagine the muscle is like bundles of straws wrapped in a nylon stocking. The ‘straws’ are muscle fibers encased in fascia; the nylon stocking. Those fibers are like the telephone lines that deliver messages from your brain to the muscle. Some are ‘fast twitch’ fibers and some are ‘slow twitch’ fibers.
What does that mean and how do they work?
Well, simply put, imagine you are standing hanging out the washing (I know, the glamour), the motion of holding your body upright will use lots of muscles from all over your body. You brain will subconsciously send a message to those muscles to fire them up! This is known as a slow twitch response. The muscles will use energy slowly and keep going for a long time. They need lots of oxygenated blood to keep them working. Now imagine you drop a pair of smalls! Quick, grab them before they hit the dirty floor (no time to be re washing stuff right!) Your arm shoots out quickly to catch the falling knickers, your brain has sent another message to your muscles and this time as fast twitch signal. A burst of activity that takes up a lot of the muscle energy quickly. Most muscles will be made up of fast and slow twitch fibers.
Why do they get tense?
Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, take another deep breath and gently turn your head from side to side. Can you feel those muscles stretching and relaxing? Are your shoulders moving down, away from your ears!? Does your neck feel less stiff? That is you consciously telling those muscles to take a load off! Have a break! If our muscles are over used in a repetitive way or held in a certain position for a period of time, that nylon stocking gets tighter and causes tension. The muscles fibers are then constricted and don’t have enough of the oxygen they need to function effectively. I guess you know that feeling sometimes.
What can we do to encourage our muscles to release tension and keep in tip top condition?
Vary your movements and exercise
Drink plenty of water
Heat and ice
Mindfulness – try a body scan mindfulness session. Scan each part of your body from your head to your toes. Imagine those fibers firing away, take a breath and imagine them settling down and releasing the tension. Take your time and really feel each muscle releasing. Don’t worry if other thoughts come into your mind, just watch them float away and re focus your attention on your body. Enjoy taking the time to chill out for a few minutes!