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Biomechanics of locomotor apparatus and miofascial therapy
The human organism was formed at the time when a human being was an integral part of the wildlife. Back then it was necessary to fight for one’s existence, i.e. to protect oneself from enemies, to establish a home, to obtain food, etc. In other words, people were forced to run, fight, dig, break, chop, etc. For these purposes a certain set of muscles was developed, which we still have nowadays, but we do not use it in the way as it was intended initially. Some people spend most of their time sitting at the desk at their workplace, some driving a car, and others bending over factory machines, etc.
As a result, a big number of our body muscles, pre-programmed for constant work by the nature, remain permanently in the same position – some of them are almost always contracted, others are always stretched. However, the muscles form the frame and environment for the other organs, in the first place for nervous and circulatory systems. And as a result of modern lifestyle, nerve and vascular trunks appear to be deformed and pushed by the motionless and fixed in one position muscles. This means that we get headache (which prompts us to swallow tons of tablets), pain in the back and the waist (and we start rubbing or applying various ointments and blame the spine, which in effect is the main ‘victim’ of muscular asymmetry rather than the cause of our pain). Also we get pain joints, arms and legs stiffness, mobility and posture disturbance, and many other problems caused by the conflict of interests between our body and our lifestyle.
It must be noted that we often tend to ascribe unjustifiably important role to the spine and the joints as the cause of all sorts of pains. For example diagnosing such diseases as osteochondrosis and scoliosis is basically just stating the fact that the spine has lost its physical shape and is forced to work in unnatural conditions. One can question why all of a sudden the spine which is comprised of the total of more than thirty bones connected by joints has changed its geometrics? As is known, the spine itself does not have any mechanisms that could influence its shape considerably.
The answer is quite simple – along the whole length of the human spine muscles are attached from different sides and they form the basis of the muscular frame. If all the muscles are evenly developed, there is harmony and balance of the muscle power pulling the spine in different directions. In such case all movements are performed as required by the norm of locomotor biomechanics. But as soon as the symmetry is violated, as soon as certain muscles from one side lag behind the group of muscles on the opposite side in their functioning, the spine gets immediately exposed to a force, bending it towards the muscle, which has lost its elasticity. Therefore the spine suffers from the same problem – losing its natural tone, biomechanics and distortion of the surrounding muscles symmetry.
Having clarified the issue what is ‘to blame’, we can consider the problem of what should be done. The solution is apparent – in the first place, the normal condition of muscles should be restored, and all the other issues (restoring the natural spine symmetry, correction of nerve and vascular trunks distortion, rehabilitation of joints functions, etc.) will be resolved as a logical sequence of eliminating the underlying cause leading to all the above problems. That is why lately we can see the growing popularity of miofascial therapy (MFT) which is aimed at restoring the natural geometrics and tone of both separate muscles as well as the whole muscular frame. The technology of MFT is similar to other manual correction methods, but there is some considerable difference from other well-known procedures. The major distinction that must be noted is that the object of a miofascial therapist is not the bones and the joints, but the muscles and the ligamentous tissues.
Therefore the main ‘external’ difference is that MFT does not imply any sudden movements, or any reductions, etc. The philosophy behind it is simple – what is the point of reducing a joint without dealing with the asymmetry of adjoining muscles? In such case in a few minutes or hours after the reduction, the joint will return to the initial condition because of the influence of the same powers that displaced it in the first place. Thus, no matter how trivial it may sound, the cause should be treated rather than the consequence.
The procedure of MFT can be described as follows: first, the doctor detects the problematic muscle groups, and then acts as a ‘live training apparatus’ performing coercive stretching of the patient’s muscles in certain directions. Meanwhile, the patient should follow the instructions of the doctor and perform dosed contrary actions. So, an MFT session is a serious physical load on both the doctor and the patient, with certain adjustments made according to the age and abilities of the latter. In any case, MFT is successfully used even in rehabilitation of the patients recovering after an infarction or a stroke, whereas the physical abilities of the patients are quite limited.
Besides elimination of pains, quicker rehabilitation processes and correction of various mobility and posture disturbances, MFT offers another advantage which should be mentioned separately. It is a well-known fact that psycho-emotional tension resulting from stress, is accompanied by the muscle tension. However, MFT allows relieving the muscle tension, which is one component of the organism stress reactions. Thus acting through the backchannels it helps to relieve the anxiety and depression, along with a whole lot of other symptoms that we usually name as ‘being at the edge of a nervous breakdown’.