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Everything you need to know about muscle contractures

Muscle contractures are one of the minor injuries that most limit our activity or physical performance , as well as being a frequent injury in a large part of the population (the back is the main focus in which they tend to take place, although not the only one).

These injuries can be thought of as exclusive to sports people, but the truth is that they are much more common among sedentary people than in physically active people , precisely as a result of the sedentary and lack of muscle tone.

What is a muscle contracture?

The term “muscular contracture” refers precisely to the moment in which the muscle performs its own contraction to generate movement or force. From this definition, we can extract that a muscle contraction is a contraction of the muscle (or of some of the fibers that compose it), which remains contracted over time , that is, does not return to its habitual state of relaxation.

A muscle contracture can originate in three different ways: while we exercise or in the execution of a movement of our day to day (it may be due to an excessively explosive movement for which the muscle was not sufficiently prepared or hot), after the performance of the exercise ( due to excessive muscle fatigue ) or a blow or trauma to the muscle . There may also be cases of contractures that appear due to a poor posture maintained over time, such as the position adopted by a person who works all day in an office and does not sit correctly or stoop in front of the computer .

And there is another factor that is becoming more common as a generator or trigger of muscle contractures: stress. A stressed person is a person who is continuously stressed , and this, in the long run, generates a stress on our muscles that if we do not alleviate in some way (massages, stretches), it will end up generating an injury at the muscular level.

How can we prevent a muscle contracture?

While we are all exposed to suffer at some point a muscle contracture no matter how well we are physically (100% is impossible to prevent any type of injury), it is true that there are some guidelines that we can put into practice to prevent the extent of possible this type of injuries :

  • Postural hygiene: postural hygiene is vital to avoid acquiring stale postures that lead us to suffer a contracture . The bad placement in a chair to sit in our office, go all day hunched when we walk, weight always on the same side as for example when we carry a bag or a backpack … are some examples of what are stale postures. Avoiding them is basic to maintaining proper postural health.
  • Adequate heating in sports practice : if we perform physical activity, warming is essential to prevent muscle contractures , as it is gradually starting the muscle for the physical effort that is coming, avoiding cold explosive movements that can injure us .
  • Maintenance of good muscle tone : a person who enjoys good muscle tone will be less likely to suffer muscle contractures than someone who is not, for the simple fact that your musculoskeletal system will be in a better tone and more prepared for unforeseen circumstances. be a fall or a blow.
  • Reduce sedentary lifestyle : try to lead a life as sedentary as possible and keep us physically active, will help without doubt that our muscles are in good condition, significantly reducing the chances of suffering an injury of this type. In addition, it is important that physical activity, if we are starting, we perform it in a controlled and progressive, because if we start with too high intensities almost security will fall injured.

Most common muscle contractions

The neck, the back and to a lesser extent the legs are the main centers in which the greatest number of muscular contractures usually take place.

Cervical contractures

Cervical contractures are usually caused by bad postures on a day-to-day basis, especially among those who have an office job and spend long hours working sitting in front of a computer and do not have correct postural hygiene. They can also come from bad posture during sleep or the use of a pillow that does not fit our physiognomy.

If we talk about cervical contractures caused by sudden movements or blows , we could assure that almost in 100% of traffic accidents the cervical contractures are a direct consequence of them.

Contractures in the back

The back is, possibly, the muscular and anatomical area that we treat the worst in our day: bad postures of continuous form, little rest, stress, lack of muscle tone … will make, sooner or later, our back ends up complaining in form of contracture .

As a general rule, we will notice in the area of ​​the affected back a sensation as of rigidity or of having “a ball” inside, unequivocal signs that almost certainly we have a contracture. And it should be noted that back injuries can be highly disabling and generate many problems in the future if we do not rehabilitate them correctly.

Contractures in the legs

Normally, contractures in the lower train tend to be more typical of sports people or those who are starting in the sport but do so with an intensity above what they should. In addition, contractures are, along with overload (which can also be a precursor to a future contracture if we do not stop in time) and cramps , some of the most frequent injuries in the lower train (always speaking from the muscular point of view) .

And very careful the girls who wear heels very often , because it is a factor that can favor the appearance of contractures in the legs and in the area of ​​your lower back due to the forced position of the feet.

How to treat a muscle contracture?

The first thing to do in case of suffering a muscle contracture is for physical activity, because if we continue doing it we could cause the muscle to end up breaking and a fiber rupture is a lesion more series than a contracture. Rest (always to the extent that is possible), will be one of the basic guidelines in the treatment of contractures.

To carry out a good stretching protocol in a gentle way and as long as there is no pain, will be another of the mechanisms that we can put at our disposal for the treatment of this type of injuries. A clear example of this are cervical contractures, which in many cases improve and remit the discomfort by performing the appropriate stretches (in addition to serving to relax the muscles of the area and relieve muscle stress caused by the injury). Along with stretching, the application of local heat helps a lot in the recovery of the injury.

Pear contractures that are a bit more persistent or painful, it may become necessary to use analgesics or anti-inflammatories, for which we must go to our doctor beforehand so that it is he who prescribes these drugs. In no case should we be the ones who start taking them without previously consulting a doctor.

Going to a physiotherapist is another of the measures that can suppose a great improvement in the treatment of a muscular contracture , since it will relieve the area and will help us to relax all the affected musculature.


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