Why did my sore shoulder go away when my hips were treated?

Remember that song?  ♫ The hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone… the thigh bone’s connected to the knee bone and so on – blablabla ♫ ???

Incredibly true.   Everything in our body is connected.  Our muscles form the joints of our bones (via our tendons) and our bones are also connected by ligaments.  

Let me introduce you to fascia.  The "ABC" version.

In simple terms, our muscles are wrapped in layers of glad wrap.  In fact, some of these layers of glad wrap run through our muscles.  Our tendons and ligaments are comprised of this wonderful glad wrap. Hve you ever seen a lamb shank?  That silvery wrapping around the beautiful juicy meat bit that wraps around and down joining it to the bone?  That there's your fascia.  

We get muscle stiffness, knots and adhesions in our muscles that cause tension and pain.  In addition, this fascia wrapping can get tight, and firmly stick to itself.  Acting almost like Velcro.

Amazing.

There is a whole strip of this stuff – from the top of your head, down your back, splitting somewhere around your buttocks and running down into your Achilles tendon.  One. Big. Single. Piece.

A fun test is to find someone who can’t touch their toes bending forwards… our lecturer demonstrated this once at college (many moons ago).  Have them try to touch their toes in standing positon.  Mark the point their fingers reach.  Have them roll a ball (golf ball is good) under the sole of their foot for 5 minutes firmly then have them touch their toes again.   You will be amazed at how much further they can reach.  Just because you have loosened off a nice big piece of wrapping around your muscles.  You have not even touched a muscle

So back to the interconnectedness.  Besides fascia, the muscles work with and against each other in every movement.   A great therapist I once knew often stated that “Where there is a bow, there is a string.  If one is tight, it will be pulling on something else.  Office bunnies often complain of a really tight neck and shoulders, but what do they do all day?  You’re right!  They sit at their desk, so in effect, let’s generalise – the chest muscles are all short from leaning forward, staring at a pc screen with the arms outstretched typing.  This makes them get short and pulls and stretches those back and neck muscles.  No wonder they’re tight.  No wonder a neck and head massage doesn’t do the trick either – those chest muscles pull them right back out of whack.  They need to be stretched and loosened up to for an optimal treatment. 

Ever pulled some meat out of a package that has been shrink wrapped?  The wrapping stays the same shape.  Your fascia is just like that.  Couple the fact that you are repeatedly in a position for long periods of time with the fact that many of us are probably sucking on coffee rather than water and forget the importance of both movement and lubrication.  Our fascia becomes just like that shrink wrap. 

Instead of the layers sliding beautifully over each other, they suddenly become akin to Velcro, as mentioned earlier.  Injury or damage to an area will also cause adhesion of these fascia layers.   Don’t forget lubrication.  Dehydration and lack of ‘good’ fluids plays havoc and instead of happily sliding across each other, the layers just stick together. 

What does this all mean?  Sometimes muscle tension is only part of the problem.  Every teeny tiny muscle fibre is wrapped in this glad wrap fascia.  Each complete muscle is bound in it and the joints are full of it.  If this binds up and sticks to itself, massaging the wazoo out of a muscle is really not going to make much difference. 

Back to the question at hand - Why did my shoulder get better when my hips were released?  They are connected!  Not just a part of my body, nor are they joined by the same muscle but they are connected!

See the diagram below.  My hip was out of alignment and the muscles were tight.  The fascia around my hip and the joint of my thigh bone was bound up tight as can be.  I had not really been drinking enough water if I am honest about it either.  This was in turn pulling on that dirty big muscle right down the length of the back.  This was of course pulling on the shoulder area and hence, my sore shoulder.  Who’d have thought?!  So having my shoulder massaged relieved some of the symptoms, but it wasn’t until I’d had the offending area addressed that was causing a chain reaction so to speak.  

Picture courtesy of Healing Arts Continuing Education.

Be conscious of your fluids.  Have you ever patted a dog’s back?  Notice how wibbly wobbly it is?  It rolls back and forth over the flesh really loosely.  Notice also, that same dog goes and has a drink very regularly.  Your muscles should almost feel like that.  Not quite, but similar. 

Make sure that you consider your fascia, not just your muscles.  Talk to your massage therapist, especially if you are suffering tendonitis or joint problems.  It’s not the only factor, but it may well be contributing.

Be sure to have your therapist look at all aspects of the problem and consider a full body treatment, not just a quickie local treatment of the area in question. 

Think about your posture, habits and workspaces.

Want to know more?  Give me a call!

Lisa - 0408 767 263 / 07 3432 9885