Muscles are important parts of the body that help support the spine and provide strength and movement.
There are about 700 muscles in the human body. Many muscles are attached to the skeletal bones, and each skeletal muscle contains tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and skeletal muscle tissue. Muscles are also in digestive organs and the heart.1 A muscle is a soft tissue made up of “protein filaments that slide past one another”. They contract and change the shape and length of the cell. Muscles provide “force and motion”. They can move food through the body, pump blood through the heart, and they are responsible for movement and posture. The three types of muscles are called cardiac, smooth, and skeletal. Their movements are voluntary or involuntary, depending on their function, with cardiac and smooth muscles being the types that move without thought. The word “muscles” derives from the “musculus”, a Latin term meaning “little mouse” for the movements they make under the skin. Cardiac muscle is only in the heart. Smooth muscles line organs (such as in the digestive tract). Skeletalmuscles, the voluntary variety, are connected to the bones by tendons. Females, or adult women, have 36% of their body mass as skeletal muscle, whereas males, or adult men, are 42% skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscles consist of two varieties: fast twitch and slow twitch. Fast twitch “contract quickly and powerfully but fatigue very rapidly”. They are anaerobic and are used for strength and mass. Slow twitch has more oxygen and is useful for aerobic activity. Carbohydrates and fats are their fuel, and they “contract for long periods of time but with little force”. There are about 650 skeletal muscles in the body. Exercise is very important to muscles; it can be used to increase size, strength, and efficiency.2
Chiropractic, Massage, and Muscles
Sometimes muscles experience dysfunction, and people can have the pain and inflammation from an injury, pulled muscles, sore muscles, or muscle spasm. In cases where treatments at home don’t work (i.e., rest, ice, elevation, compression, NSAIDs such as naproxen, etc.) to ease the pain, a patient may need to consult a specialist, such as a chiropractor or massage therapist. Chiropractors will palpatefor tightness. Spasms happen when muscles fight each other, such as when a tense muscle pulls at a weak one. The weaker muscle must be strengthened, but the tighter one must also be stretched. Stretching and exercising go together in treating muscular pain. Sometimes a chiropractor will work with a massage therapist to help patients alleviate pain. In addition to exercise, stretching, and massage, chiropractors may also recommend relaxation techniques.3 Other remedies that might be offered at a chiropractic office, for muscle pain relief, include chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture, soft tissue therapy, muscular release therapy, ultrasound, interferential current (IFC), trigger point therapy, custom orthotics, and even suggestions on nutrition, including supplements.4
Learn more about treating muscle spasms.