Muscle contractures are common injuries, and not only in athletes. They also occur in people who are sedentary or who exert themselves physically at work, for example. They can be prevented with a good warm-up, focusing on flexibility, and performing exercises from lower to higher intensity.
When they appear, it is important to know which methods help to combat them. Here we develop those that can be applied to the back and explain both the causes and symptoms of a muscle contraction.
What is a muscle contracture?
As its name suggests, it is an excessive, continuous and involuntary contraction of the fibres that make up a muscle. This happens when metabolic waste builds up in the fibres, preventing the blood from reaching them properly. This accumulation of toxins then irritates the nerve endings and creates the contracture.
It causes the affected muscle to adopt a state of constant tension. Specifically, muscle contractures in the back can arise in the lower (lumbar), middle (dorsal) or upper (cervical) back. Because of the large number of muscles in this area, several or all of them can contribute to the injury. But how does it manifest itself?
What are the symptoms of muscle contracture?
The most noticeable is the lump that forms when the muscle contracts and does not relax afterwards. It is also called a knot, and the affected part remains hard and swollen.
In addition, other common symptoms are pain and limitation of movement, due to the stiffness and muscle weakness that is also felt. It can even cause headaches, dizziness and tingling in other areas of the body if the local pain radiates.
How serious a muscle contracture can be
These knots of muscle contractures can be uncomfortable but do not usually have a serious prognosis. As long as good treatment is followed and no inappropriate massages or contraindicated drugs are taken. It is best to consult a doctor or physiotherapist.
The aim should be to prevent the injury from worsening in the long term and even progressing to a more serious fibre rupture. Or that a normal range of motion may be difficult to recover if treatment is delayed too long.
Causes of muscle contractures
In general, there are several causes of muscle contractures, some of which are more specific to specific areas of the back. Here we review them:
- Overexertion. By demanding a greater intensity from the muscle than it can withstand, either continuously or on a one-off basis, it ends up fatiguing.
- When the muscle is weakened, due to lack of rest or detraining, for example, it lacks the strength to perform an activity.
- Forced postures maintained over time are also frequent causes. In the case of the back, by having it constantly upright, whether standing or sitting on a seat without a good backrest.
- A sedentary lifestyle leads to excessive relaxation of the muscles, which, not being in their best condition, suffer muscle contractions with small efforts.
- Sudden stretching is another possible trigger for injury. The muscle defends itself against it to prevent fibre rupture.
- Carrying weights continuously or incorrectly (away from the body) can lead to muscle contracture in the back.
- Bad sleeping positions, which can lead to torticollis, must be taken into account.
- Severe injury to another muscle causes the surrounding muscles to contract as a protective measure.
- Finally, stress or anxiety can play a role by releasing chemicals that cause muscle contraction.
How to remove a contracture in the back
First of all, the area where the muscle contracture is, in this case, the back, should be left to rest for two or three days. Ideally, you should lie down and not sit down. At the same time, it is advisable to apply heat, for 15 minutes, several times a day, for example with an electric blanket. This acts as a relaxant and analgesic.
Massage is added to this procedure, which is useful for getting more blood to the affected area. In this way, we recover the tissue little by little and eliminate the metabolites. The muscle relaxes, which reduces pain.
Seeing a professional is the best way to ensure that the treatment is appropriate. The physiotherapist can use other methods if deemed appropriate, such as stretching. Flexibility helps to restore elasticity to the muscle. In this specific case, it is good to stretch the lumbar, lateral and dorsal-cervical muscles.
To get rid of muscle contractions in any area, you also need to eat a healthy diet. Rich in fibre, vitamins and proteins, with quality foods.
How long does it take for a muscle contracture to heal?
Generally, if treatment is adequate and effective, the muscle contracture should heal within 5 to 10 days.
Although it is important to try to prevent it, having seen what the main causes are, we recommend using four products that help to this end. One is Orgono G7 Sport Recovery cream, to recover joints and muscles after exercise or training.
The other is the gel from the same brand, a balm for before and after training, which helps muscles to function properly. In liquid form, there is also a zinc-enriched supplement to strengthen muscles after sport. And finally, the anticomplex capsules contain vitamins, minerals and trace elements, essential for sportsmen and women.
Now you know how to avoid muscle spasms in the back, why they occur and how they can be eliminated.