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Why muscles get stiff and how massage can help

When I was a kid a LONG time ago, the word ‘fuzz’ was a American slang term for the police that you heard quite often in films.  That terminology has long gone, but it sprung up as being very relevant last week in my sports massage classes on stiff muscles at the London School of Massage.

As part of his most interesting massage tutorial, our teacher Matt showed us a video on why muscles get stiff with lack of movement/exercise.  It was called ‘The Fuzz Speech’ and was presented by Dr. Gil Headley, who is a very well known and respected anatomist.  It was facinating stuff for a therapist to watch, because it scientifically proved everything I have ever told a client with regard to keeping active and moving for a healthier way of living.

How do I stop getting stiff muscles?

This is the question that every therapist gets asked.  Although there has been a real upswing in clients getting regular massage as a preventative measure, there are still many that only get a massage because there is something wrong and they are now in pain.  Usually, a short exchange of lifestyle questions provides the answer, because we all (therapists included!) tend to ignore our own liability in health issues. Our sedantary lifestyles are causing problems with our bodies, and the build-up of the interstitial fluid between muscles is a base level problem that, if left unchecked, can cause serious problems.

Stiff muscles blog - picture of Dr Gil Headley
Dr Gil says “Here comes the Fuzz”!

The Fuzz Build up – ignore it at your peril!

In the video, Dr Headley demonstrates out how the interstitial fluid that lubricates muscle movement becomes tacky after long periods of physical inactivity (like sleeping or sitting at a laptop/TV for hours).  The easy way to instantly undo this build up is to have a good stretch “like every cat” as Dr Headley points out.  Stretching is something I am passionate about and I never stop promoting it.  I provide all my new clients with stretching advice and anybody can see and carry out the simple desk stretches we have put on the ‘Wellbeing’ page of the Kneads Must website.  However, sometimes we don’t have the time or inclination and that’s were the build-up starts. If the pattern of inactivity continues, the interstitial fluid will become thicker and solidify. When that happens, ability to move the area affected becomes restricted, and so an unhealthy rut of stiff muscles and lack of movmement is formed.

Is there any hope at all?

Yes, in a word.  Most of us (underlying health problems aside) can continue to be limber and active well into old age – in fact, staying active is a common theme in most centenarian lifestyles.  All we need to do is daily stretching, regularly exercise and get massages.  Yes, massage.  Dr Headley is a big fan of massage and bodyworkers and says so at the end of the video, especially in advanced cases of ‘fuzz’ build up.  Regular massage with a professional therapist (even once a month) will definitely help and regular, short massages at home will do wonders. I always say that 5-10 mins using the Kneader on yourself (or getting someone to do it for you) can help undo a day of sitting at a desk.

Finally – the Link to make you think

Now, here’s where I have to warn you that the YouTube video of ‘The Fuzz Speech’ contains shots of the shoulder and upper back muscles a dissected cadaver; so if you are squeamish, then have a think before you click that link!  However, if you can then do, because it just might change your life.  ‘The Fuzz Speech’

Now, go have a good stretch, go book your next massage and, of course, go buy yourself a Kneader!

Namaste….