Muscular pain is a problem experienced by all individuals, resulting from a range of causes that affect day-to-day function and often leads to further issues.
Overuse is one of the most common causes of muscle aches and pain, whereby someone continues to stress a particular muscle group. Often in athletes, overuse pain goes untreated, leading to minor tears. Untreated overuse muscular pain can transfer to tendons (where the muscle meets the bone), for example, tennis elbow.
Muscular pain can also be the result of over stretching. Overstretching of muscle fibres (a strain or tear) can occur when an individual takes a muscle to a length in which it is not capable. This often ensues as a result of poor or unspecific preparation for an activity and requires treatment and rehabilitation. Muscle pain treatment and rehabilitation are critically important to prevent the body from adapting a permanent pain-disguising and overall inefficient movement pattern.
Compensation is a commonly used term, explaining how the body adapts to a new pain. In order to prevent further pain, the brain recruits a different muscle group to perform the same action in a less efficient way. This compensatory, less functional movement pattern uses muscles for different roles than those that were originally intended, causing pains and aches in the muscle.
Asymmetry is another cause of muscular pain which is easily treated. Every individual favours one side of their body more than the other, leading to increased strength, flexibility, and function in an asymmetrical pattern. These different ranges of movement lead to rotation of the spine, changes at joints, and overuse muscular pain.
Muscle spasming/guarding is a mechanism controlled by the brain to automatically protect painful areas. This resultant muscle tightness can lead to dysfunction, rotation, asymmetry, and poor movement patterns when unidentified.
Poor posture is a common cause of everyday muscular pain, whereby people adopt forward dominant positions. Every job and activity people participate in is in front of them, thereby strengthening the muscles on the front of the body, and lengthening those on the back. These postural issues increase stress placed on joints and muscles and often cause structural adaptations.
Workplace-related muscular pain is extremely common, from people ignoring the multiple factors which enforce a poor posture or movement. Despite the common belief that labour-intensive jobs have the most injuries, it is very common for desk jobs to give people back pain. For example, when sitting at your computer, your upper arms should be vertical, the top of the screen should be horizontal to your eyes, and your forearms should be horizontal along the desk. Is that how you are sitting right now?