The Solution Part 3: Hands-on Muscle Therapy

 During the Vicious Cycle, a chiropractor Little Falls MN can see that the Movers play a sinister role. Here’s what I mean. Joint dysfunction and Stabilizer weakness are what push the back and neck through the Vicious Cycle. But the Movers do something different. They do not push. Instead, they hold. Like the teeth of a ratchet, the Movers stop the spine from being able to go any other way except deeper into the Vicious Cycle.

The Superficial Movers

After the Tipping Point, because of facilitation, the Movers become hyperactive. Then, whereas the Stabilizers start wasting away because of lack of use, and the Movers start tightening because of overuse. They become short and contracted and begin micro-tearing and scarring, causing the notorious muscle knots everyone seems to complain about. Ultimately, by the final phase of the Vicious Cycle, they are so weak and short that they become a source of pain all on their own.

How do you break Movers out of the Vicious Cycle? Like this.

Imagine you’ve been given a beautiful piece of land to live on for the rest of your life. But there’s a catch: you cannot live anywhere else except on that land. It’s a great spot, but it’s the only one you’re getting. On this land is an old, ugly house. The foundation is cracked, the support beams are splitting, and the shingles are rotten. It’s in complete disrepair. While you do have to keep the land, there are no rules about having to keep the house. What would you do? That’s right, grab a sledgehammer, rent a bulldozer, and demolish it. Why? Because sometimes you have to tear down before you can build up.

And so it is with the Movers—they’re the only ones you’ve been given, but there’s no reason why you can’t remodel them with help from a chiropractor Little Falls MN. The scar tissue must be broken down, the adhesions busted up, and the contracted tissue, lengthened. By doing this, you will give them (and yourself) an opportunity to rebuild, heal, and become pain-free.

The best way to do this is through hands-on muscle therapy. Like with the other interventions, the research on the effectiveness of hands-on muscle therapy (generally referred to as massage) and pain relief isn’t up for debate. Here are the highlights.

Research Highlights:

* Massage relieves chronic pain, chronic pain of moderate-to-severe intensity, and helps those with myalgia. (31,32,33)

* Massage improves subjective perception of and function for those with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. (34)

* Muscle-specific massage therapy is effective for reducing the incidence of chronic tension headaches. (35)

* In one interesting study done in 2007, researchers looked at eight trials of massage therapy and found that it was as effective as exercise, and a little more effective than acupuncture. (36)

Basically, all of these articles say that breaking down muscle knots and scar tissue adhesions in the superficial Movers will help you feel less pain. This theme is so common in the literature that here’s a quote pulled directly from an instructional course to orthopedic surgeons: “Massage decreases symptoms and improve function.” (37) And that’s the key—you have to get the Movers to function better, making them healthier; then you’ll be as close to pain-free as possible.

For Best Results, Use as Directed

The right type of muscle therapy applied to the right spot, on the right muscle, at the right time.

—Ben Grams, DC. Chiropractor Little Falls MN

“The right type”—If you’re trying to demolish a wall, you need a sledgehammer, not a rake. And so it is with muscle therapy. Some techniques, like “Light Touch” massage, are designed to release endorphins—natural pain killers that the body houses—and not bust up scar tissue adhesions. That’s not what we’re seeking. When it comes to getting the Movers out of the Vicious Cycle, an aggressive massage is needed. Now, breaking down scar tissue should be a bit sore and uncomfortable, so if you’re on the table and the massage you’re getting “hurts so good,” you’re probably on the right track. A few techniques that fit within this category are: deep tissue, cross friction, Active Release Technique, Graston, and myofascial release.

“The right spot”—Specificity is key. Not only does the right muscle need to be worked, but the right spot on the right muscle needs to be worked on. Here’s a couple tips:

A very important spot in a muscle is something called the musculotendinous junction, which is right where the muscle turns into a tendon before it attaches onto a bone. This is the weakest part of the muscle because it is an area of transition. The tissues there aren’t fully muscle, and they aren’t fully tendon. They’re more half-and-half, which means they have half the strength. Unfortunately, it’s also where a large amount of stress ends up when you use the muscles. The combination of these two things makes it fertile ground for the growth of scar tissue which causes a lot of issues for you and your chiropractor Little Falls MN.

The other spot, that is commonly overlooked, but where scar tissue loves to grow is between muscles. You see, the Movers are layered and typically glide over each other without problem. But when scar tissue forms between the layers, it adheres them to each other, and keeps your muscles all knotted up. If you could see it, it would look like two old books on a shelf with a thick spider web between them.

Most hands-on muscle therapy, especially when done by non-professionals, someone who is not a chiropractor Little Falls MN, or when employing most do-it-yourself muscle widgets, you cannot directly treat these areas because they’re difficult to reach and hard to find. The muscle/tendon junction, for example, can be located underneath the bone they attach onto. To get as close to pain-free as possible, with extreme precision, hands-on muscle therapy needs to be applied to the right spot. In fact, entire text-books are written about the necessity of being on the right spot, how to find it, and what to do once you’re there. One book I refer to quite often has over 750 pages, and has more detail than you can shake a stick at.

“The right muscle”—Sometimes muscle pain isn’t as straightforward as it seems. In the world of physical medicine, it’s well known that the muscle feeling the pain isn’t always the one that is causing the pain. This phenomenon is called “referred pain.” The mechanics of how this happens isn’t really important here. What is important is that it happens, it’s common, and in order to get pain-free, you can’t afford to be thrown off by this.

“The right time”—When one Mover gets damaged and forms scar tissue, a second Mover has to compensate. Soon that muscle gets overworked, damaged, and forms scar tissue. Causing a third Mover to do the same. This destruction spreads while the first Mover, where it all began, progressively worsens. This is why finding and treating the right muscle is so important.

The Mover that’s been beat up the most is the one that has to be cleared out first. Why? Because that muscle is like a slow driver in the fast lane—it’s causing a long line of issues to build up behind it. Until that muscle gets fixed by a professional like a chiropractor Little Falls MN, none of the other muscles can get as good as they should. Once you do clear that one up though, it’s truly a beautiful thing. Each subsequent muscle clears up with increasing ease. And before you know it, the slow driver has switched lanes, opening up the road ahead of you. You press the accelerator and move yourself that much closer to being pain-free.

All-in-all, any type of hands-on muscle therapy applied anywhere on probably the right muscle at any time could be good in the short run, but will be bad in the long run. It may help you relax and provide some relief, but if your goal is to break the bonds of the Vicious Cycle, hands-on muscle therapy must be applied to the right spot, on the right muscle, at the right time by a professional like a chiropractor Little Falls MN.


* Stretch with the massage. The breaking down of scar tissue activates the body’s healing mechanisms, and immediately new muscle starts getting laid down. This is a prime opportunity to tell the body that the Movers need to be remade in a longer and stronger way. Remember, Movers get their strength from being able to contract, and when they get knotted up, they lose that ability, becoming weak. The best way to stimulate those muscles on how you want them to grow is by being stretched, seek out a chiropractor Little Falls MN to learn how to properly do so. This window of opportunity doesn’t last very long so it needs to be done in a timely manner, preferably immediately following a scar tissue-breakdown session.

* Get someone else’s help. Like a chiropractor Little Falls MN… We need to make an important point here. In our day and age, there are tons of “at home,” do-it-yourself, muscle gizmo’s that you could purchase, but that doesn’t mean you should. Let me be perfectly clear: all of these things have their place, but they are not specific enough to get you out of the Vicious Cycle—and out of pain. You’re going to need the help of a trained professional to do that. Once you’re out of pain, those things are a great way to help yourself stay well.

So where can you go to get this?

Looking at a provider’s professional credentials is a good place to start, but doesn’t guarantee they understand the details of The Solution. Professional credentials are the letters after someone’s name.

For example, mine are “Ben Grams, D.C.” which stands for Doctor of Chiropractic.

But just because someone is trained as a chiropractor doesn’t automatically mean he or she knows how to deliver this type of hands-on muscle therapy. Same holds true about P.T. (Physical Therapists), M.D. (Doctors of Medicine), D.O. (Doctors of Osteopathy), L.A.c. (Licensed Acupuncturists), L.M.T (Licensed Massage Therapists), or O.T.s (Occupational Therapists). Plus, health care professionals, even chiropractor Little Falls MN, can get certifications that add even more letters to their name making it difficult to figure out who you should go to. Instead of diving into each one, let’s keep it simple.

When you first meet this professional chiropractor Little Falls MN, ask how scar tissue forms in muscles (through overuse and micro-tearing). Then ask what specifically he is going to do about it (like use a special tool, stretching, or hands-on technique to break it down). If he can answer those two questions with confidence, then you’re probably on the right track.

By getting hands-on muscle therapy from a chiropractor Little Falls MN and following these guidelines, the anchor keeping you in the Vicious Cycle will be hoisted and your ship will be ready to set sail to the land of no pain. Once you begin that journey, how do you ensure that you arrive at a pain-free destination and never return to the deep, dangerous waters of the Vicious Cycle?




  1. Walach, H., Güthlin, C., König, M. (2003). Efficacy of massage therapy in chronic pain: a pragmatic randomized trial. J Al-tern Complement Med. 9(6), 837-46.


  1. Seers, K., Crichton, N., Martin, J., Coulson, K., Carroll, D. (2008). A randomized controlled trial to assess the effective ness of a single session of nurse administered massage for short term relief of chronic non-malignant pain. BMC Nurs. 7, 10.


  1. Frey Law, L.A., Evans, S., Knudtson, J. Nus, S., Scholl, K., Sluka, K.A. (2008). Massage reduces pain perception and hy peralgesia in experimental muscle pain: a randomized, controlled trial. J Pain. 9(8), 714-21.


  1. Moraska, A., Chandler, C., Edmiston-Schaetzel, A., Franklin, G., Calenda, E.L., Enebo, B. (2008). Comparison of a targeted and general massage protocol on strength, function, and symptoms associated with carpal tunnel syndrome: a randomized pilot study. J Altern.


  1. Quinn C., Chandler C., Moraska A. Massage Therapy and Frequency of Chronic Tension Headaches. American Journal of Public Health 92(10); 1657-61; Oct 2002.


  1. Chou, R., & Huffman, L.H. (2007). Non-pharmacologic therapies for acute and chronic low back pain: A review of the evidence for an American Pain Society/American College of Physicians clinical practice guidelines. Annals of Internal Medicine, 147 (7), 492-504.


  1. Non-operative Management of Low Back Pain and Lumbar Disc Degeneration: An Instructional Course Lecture, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Vol. 86-A, Number 8, August 2004. Darrell S. Brodke, MD, and Stephen M. Ritter, MD

We don’t promise a cure or claim to be superior, we simply like to believe that our clinic is built on helping people feel better. This content is written for Chiro Plus Rehab by a third party. The information in this post is provided for general informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice. No information contained in this post should be construed as medical advice from Chiro Plus Rehab, or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for any opinion of a trained medical professional. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a medical professional. The choice of a chiropractor or other medical professional is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements or this post. The opinions expressed in this post are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of Chiro Plus Rehab or Dr. Ben Grams.