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Muscle And Joint Pain Facts

As people age, they begin to experiencen more and more pain in their muscles and joints, says Bryan and College Station Chiropractor Dr. David Bailey, a Board Certified Chiropractic Orthopedist. They stiffen up with age, and normal everyday activities are done with significant discomfort.

Such discomfort most think comes form arthritis deep in their bones. However the genuine source of stiffness and pain lies not in the joints or bones, according to research study at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, but in the muscles and connective tissues that move and support the joints.

Flexibility is the clinical and medical term for how far a joint moves in it's particular place of movement. The more the joint can move either through muscle power or through passive movement, is it's clinical range of motion or ROM. Passive ROM is usually greater than active ROM, using the muscles to move the joint about.

If you flex forward from the hips enough to touch your toes with your fingertips, you have excellent flexibility, or ROM of the hip joints. But the real questions are does it hurt, or is it easy to do? The exertion called for to flex a joint is equally as vital as its ROM numbers.

Different elements restrict the versatility and ease of movement in various joints as well as muscles. In the elbow joint and knee, the bony structure itself sets a limit. In various other joints, such as the ankle, hip, as well as back, the soft tissue-- muscular tissue and connective tissues (tendons, ligament, and fascia) limit the ROM.

The issue of inflexible joints as well as muscular tissues corresponds to the trouble of opening as well as closing an old rusty gate. It takes a lot of energy and it makes a lot of noise, and there is a limit to how far you can open it.

Hence, if you let your joints get "rusty" through lack of mobility, you will gradually lose the full use of that joint. Then when you really need to use the joint for activities of daily living, you can need assistance to do the things you could do by yourself, like toileting, bathing, dressind, and even feeding your self. These are things that everybody would want to do without assistance, maintaining their independence. So joint health maintains independent living.

However, other factors trigger sore muscles. Here are some of them:

1. Aggressive Exercise Beyond Capacity

Is it No pain, no gain? In reality, no!

The problem with most people is that they exercise too much thinking that it is the fastest and the surest way to lose weight. Until they ache, they tend to ignore their muscles and connective tissue, even though they are what quite literally holds the body together.

2. Advanced Age

Connective tissue binds muscle to bone by tendons, binds bone to bone by ligaments, and covers and unites muscles with sheaths called fasciae. With age, the tendons, ligaments, and fasciae become less extensible. The tendons, with their densely packed fibers, are the most difficult to stretch. The easiest are the fasciae. But if they are not stretched to improve joint mobility, the fasciae shorten, placing undue pressure on the nerve pathways in the muscle fasciae. Many aches and pains are the result of nerve impulses traveling along these pressured pathways.

3. Immobility

Sore muscles or muscle pain can be excruciating, owing to the bodys reaction to a cramp or ache. In this reaction, called the splinting reflex, the body automatically immobilizes a sore muscle by making it contract. Thus, a sore muscle can set off a vicious cycle pain.

First, an unused muscle becomes sore from exercise or being held in an unusual position. The body then responds with the splinting reflex, shortening the connective tissue around the muscle. This cause more pain, and eventually the whole area is aching. One of the most common sites for this problem is the lower back.

4. Spasm Theory

In the physiology laboratory at the University of Southern California, some people have set out to learn more about this cycle of pain.

Using some device, they measured electrical activity in the muscles. The researchers knew that normal, well-relaxed muscles produce no electrical activity, whereas, muscles that are not fully relaxed show considerable activity.

In one experiment, the researchers measured these electrical signals in the muscles of persons with athletic injuries, first with the muscle immobilized, and then, after the muscle had been stretched.

In almost every case, exercises that stretched or lengthened the muscle diminished electrical activity and relieved pain, either totally or partially.

These experiments led to the spasm theory, an explanation of the development and persistence of muscle pain in the absence of any obvious cause, such as traumatic injury.

According to this theory, a muscle that is overworked or used in a strange position becomes fatigued and as a result, sore muscles.

Hence, it is extremely important to know the limitations and capacity of the muscles in order to avoid sore muscles. This goes to show that there is no truth in the saying, No pain, no gain. It is best to start exercising at a lower intensity and then build up slowly to avoid injury. Expert supervision in the beginning is also good advice.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this article is intended to be used as a substitute for advice of a physician. Do not modify your diet, exercises, or medications without first seeking the advice of a physician. Information on this site is for information purposes only. No claims have been approved by the FDA unless otherwise indicated.

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