Muscle contractures: what they are, why they appear and how they are treated

Muscle Many of us have suffered or suffer from back pain occasionally or, even, in a habitual way. Our lifestyle increasingly sedentary and many of our jobs, which involve spending many hours sitting or in inappropriate positions end up generating serious discomfort in our backs that cause us pain.

In many cases, these pains are caused by muscle contractures that doctors or our physiotherapist will warn us about. However, many of us have not been clear about exactly what muscle contractions are, what are the causes of their appearance and how they should be treated.

Muscle contractures
Muscle contractures

What is a muscle contracture

Our muscles, in their normal functioning, contract and relax again and again, to help us perform the movements and the appropriate strength. In the case of muscle contractures, they are the contraction of a muscle – or some of its fibers – but which remains contracted instead of returning to the state of habitual relaxation.
This type of continuous contraction is, of course, involuntary and causes our muscles to remain constantly in tension. This contraction sustained over time generates that the area is swollen and hard to the touch forming what many of us know as “knot”.

There are different types of contractures depending on the way in which they were caused: Contracture during the effort: with a very high effort, sometimes, our body is not able to debug the metabolites. This causes them to accumulate and create the pain and inflammation of the contracture. After the effort: after carrying out a great effort, sometimes the muscles do not have the capacity to return to a state of relaxation, due to the fatigue they have been subjected to. Residuals after an injury: when we suffer an injury such as fractures or sprains, the muscles that are around this musculature tend to contract to protect the injured area. The problem comes when, after the injury is healed, the muscles can not relax again.

Causes of contractures

Among some of the causes that cause muscle contractures, we find a sedentary lifestyle. The little physical activity means that our body does not have enough muscle tone so that, when we make a greater effort than usual, our body can not stand it and contractures appear. Another of the most common causes is the suffering of stress. When we are subjected to situations of high stress, our muscles tend to be stressed too much, involuntarily and continuously, causing the appearance of contractures.

Poor postures at work or having an advanced age are also risk factors and can generate contractures. In the case of older adults, there is a loss of elasticity in their muscles that favors the appearance of contractures. Athletes are also at risk of contractures due to repetitive movements, the impacts they suffer or excessive effort.


How to treat contractures

It is important that we go to our doctor or a physiotherapy expert to assess the extent of the contracture and give us the most appropriate guidelines to take care of ourselves. In any case, the first step is always to try to get away from the cause of the injury. If a continuous gesture or a bad habitual posture is the cause, we will need rest to avoid them.

The application of dry heat in the contracture can also help us, especially in the early stages of contracture. It may also be useful for us to use contrast baths to improve circulation and for blood to better water the contracture area. In addition, in some cases, anti-inflammatories can help us, although it is recommended that our doctor recommend us if he considers it appropriate. Finally, massages are one of the most appropriate techniques to treat contractures. Going to a physiotherapy professional who treats our injury adequately and gives us guidelines for the care of our muscles is the best option to cure contracture.

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