The Science of Stretch
The study of connective tissue is shedding light on pain and providing new explanations for alternative medicine.
By Helene M. Langevin | May 1, 2013
It joins your thigh to your calf; your hand to your arm; your breastbone to your clavicle. As you move, it allows your muscles to glide past one another. It acts like a net suspending your organs and a high-tech adhesive holding your cells in place while relaying messages between them. Connective tissue is one of the most integral components of the human machine. Indeed, one could draw a line between any two points of the body via a path of connective tissue. This network is so extensive and ubiquitous that if we were to lose every organ, muscle, bone, nerve, and blood vessel in our bodies, we would still maintain the same shape: our “connective-tissue body.”
Despite increasing evidence of its role in chronic pain and other diseases, connective tissue is not very well studied. I arrived at researching connective tissue by a circuitous route. Working as a clinical endocrinologist, I would see patients suffering from chronic pain, and quickly became frustrated with the treatment options I could offer—usually some combination of physical therapy and analgesics, which often were not very effective. Some of my patients would ask about trying acupuncture. But, having done research in neuroscience and being firmly rooted in the practice of Western medicine, I was skeptical. Eventually, I decided to learn more, if only to be able to respond to patient questions more intelligently. more.....
Nothing ‘Evil' and No ‘Conundrum' About Muscle Lactate Production
By ROBERT A ROBERGS
Charles Sturt University, School of Human Movement Studies, Panorama Drive, Bathurst, NSW 2795, Australia Email:
In a Viewpoint article, Lindinger (2011) commented that ‘…lactate accumulation is a necessary evil associated with high speed'. Added commentary included, ‘That such high rates of lactate production can benefit performance, and yet such high lactate concentrations impair performance (Cairns, 2006), remains a conundrum of exercise physiology'. It is important to correct several immediate and underlying aspects of this interpretation of metabolic biochemistry and the data from the original research of Kitaoka et al. (2011).
Repeated intense muscle contraction can cause high rates of lactate production, with greatest rates occurring in fast-twitch glycolytic (type IIb) muscle as explained by Lindinger (2011). The long history of lactate, lactic acid and exercise-induced fatigue, even to the present time, has been tainted by erroneous interpretations of a detrimental view towards inter-relationships between muscle lactate production, acidosis and muscle contractile failure more......
Wall Street Journal
Classical Musicians Suffer for Their Art
By STUART ISACOFF
Classical musicians enjoy gossip as much as anyone; just consider the popularity of Blair Tindall's book, "Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music." But there is a subject that even the most jaded sophisticates in this profession still speak about in hushed tones, if at all: performance-related injury.
Pain and disability are commonplace aspects of a life in sports. But for musicians, who are, in the words of pianist Leon Fleisher, "athletes of the small muscles," they are often considered a personal failing -- as well as a threat to status and career. As Dr. William J. Dawson, president of the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA) put it recently, "There's always somebody lurking over your shoulder to take your chair." more.....
US News & World Report
Rolfing: No Longer a Fringe Therapy
By Rett Fisher
After eight years with the Philadelphia Orchestra, C.J. Chang, the principal viola, says he "couldn't really play more than 10 minutes without severe pain." Doctors diagnosed an overgrown muscle in his right hand, but neither massage nor ultrasound provided relief. A colleague recommended that Chang try an alternative therapy known as Rolfing. After the fifth or sixth treatment, Chang says, he felt his "whole hand just freeing" and was able to resume his career.
Rolfing Structural Integration was developed in the 1930s by Ida P. Rolf, a biochemist from New York, after she was diagnosed with spinal arthritis. Rolf focused on the role of the fascia, a form of connective tissue that envelops different muscle groups, allowing them to move freely in relation to each other and often across several joints. When an injury occurs, she theorized, the fascia tightens around that injury, somewhat like a cast or band-aid. Even after the injury heals, the fascia stays in that rigid position, often causing chronic pain and discomfort. Structural Integration is a form of deep tissue massage that stretches and opens the fascia, correcting misalignment and restoring balance throughout the whole body. Actor Christopher Reeve was treated around his lungs to allow him to breathe without his ventilator. Figure skater Michelle Kwan has used the therapy to gain a competitive edge, help with her balance, and recover from injuries more quickly. more....
New York Times:
Rolfing, Excruciatingly Helpful
By AUSTIN CONSIDINE
A FORMER dancer of 14 years, Anna Zahn is in touch with her body. To gain more flexibility, and to counteract some of the strain from dancing, she has tried a number of remedies: Reiki, acupuncture, yoga.
But she still felt tight, her body tense. So she started getting Rolfed — a kind of deep-tissue bodywork that can be so intense that some jokingly liken it to masochism.
“It’s not going to massage and lighting aromatherapy candles,” said Ms. Zahn, a 20-year-old student at New York University, who gets a Rolfing treatment every week or so. “It’s tough to go to these sessions. It’s painful, very painful, emotionally and physically. But you feel such a relief when you leave that it’s just the most amazing feeling.” more....