Living with pain diminishes the quality of life we lead. We have all felt pain at some point in our life. Pain comes from injury, repetitive stress disorder and overuse. The mind of a muscle is complicated. The more we can understand it the better we can find relief and healing from injuries.
Most of the time our muscles react to stimuli to help prevent injury or trauma. They are very smart! Muscles signal the appropriate reaction to stop the body from doing what it is that causes it pain.
Of course, there are times when an injury does occur. You muscles actually will remember this action and the injury that comes from it. The muscles will contract automatically anytime your body comes close to the action of the injury it remembers. This is ‘muscle memory” and is also known as ‘muscle guarding.’ It’s a warning system that the body sets up ~ chemically within the cells of the muscles~ that says “Hey Don’t do that ~ you’ll hurt me”
If you go to this point and beyond time and time again, the body will set up limiting patterns to help you avoid it. It wants to alleviate your pain and discomfort. So, in the case of a hip injury, the body will start moving in such a way as to avoid the pain. You may develop a different walking pattern or it may ‘guard’ the hip by engaging the lower back muscles. This will create changes in posture and place burden elsewhere on the body ~ possibly creating pain in another region. YIKES!
Treatment with Trigger Point Therapy (Neuromuscular therapy) allows the body to break this cycle for you. It is like the proverbial onion and addresses one layer after the next of the muscles that involved. This is re-educating the muscle tissue. Basically, you are changing the chemical ‘memory’ of the muscle and allowing it to reset back to the ‘memory’ it had prior to the injury. It can take time based on a number of factors. The age of the injury, the severity of the injury, the lack of attention the injury has had over time and the skill of the therapist assisting you in healing are just some of the factors.
We create muscle memory in our bodies when we learn something new. Remember how you learned to skip rope or do a cartwheel or tie your shoes? It took time but once you learned it, you did not forget! Muscle memory also works this way when dealing with injuries. If you get a sprain and let it heal, it will not remember as easily. But, if you get a sprain and re-sprain it before the healing process is complete. The muscle memory will set in for a sprain ~ just like it set itself for learning how to skip rope!
But, it can be un-learned. With time and the correct healing process (trigger point therapy, ice, rest etc), you can re-train your muscle memory! For best results, be consistent with your therapeutic approach and you can reverse that muscle memory.