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Should we always release a tight muscle?

by Dr Matt Fontaine

Using manual treatments like Active Release Technique provides the physical medicine provider with invaluable tools to release a tight muscle or scar tissue. However, when one identifies a tight restricted muscle, one should ask the question..Why is the muscle tight?

Ensuring the Proper Rehab Sequence

Understanding Centration and the Body’s Support Structure

The above diagram is from Manohar Panjabi. It’s called “stabilizing system of the spine”. It is imperative that we look not only at the muscles and the joints, but also the coordination from the nervous system.

The kinematic chain can be likened to a domino effect. To properly execute movement, the body must execute movements at the right place at the right time, like dominos falling. Any disruption of the chain from a weak link in the chain can result in injury.

An example would be to discuss the change of view about the rectus abdominus . Once thought to create trunk flexion, which it does do, the role now is focused on anti-extension. Meaning it acts as a spine stabilizer. More accurately, the rectus should be seen as a muscle aiding in increasing intra abdominal pressure, which acts to buttress the spine.

Asking the question of why will often times lead to answering the question of How? How can we properly restore function to the structure?

For more on proper rehab sequencing, read more here.


Panjabi and White. Clinical Biomechanics of the Spine. Lippincott

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