Where do you hold tension?

Myofascial body armour.

The myofascia is our system of muscles and associated soft tissues.

It lies beneath our skin and wraps around our bones. It helps our body move by tensing and relaxing in certain patterns.

The musculoskeletal system is shaped through its experiences.

When we experience the same patterns of tension and relaxation repeatedly, the myofascia learns this pattern. Runners will get tightness and pain in a pattern that reflects their running form, and the stretches they do after. People who spend a lot of the day sat at computers get a different pattern of tightness and pain.

We can call the structure that forms through these repeated patterns, the Myofascial Body Armor. Our unique pattern of armor has been built up in response to what the body has been through over the course of our life-time.

How to loosen body armour

Surgery can make muscle imbalances worse, and medicine only hides pain temporarily.

To loosen the body armor, we need to move gently, stretch, and change our posture regularly. Moving helps release tension and teach our body new patterns. Movement also helps nourish and clean our tissues, which reduces inflammation.

If you have symptoms from the musculoskeletal system, it is a good idea to see a professional who knows about how our body moves, like a physiotherapist. They can show you personalized exercises to correct your unique muscle imbalances, relieve pain, and reduce tension.


Maria's Experience

Stretching can help keep your body flexible, but it can also relieve pain. The advice I was given in rehabilitation was to start by increasing flexibility. Only then move the focus to cardiovascular fitness, and after that to increasing strength. This approach worked for me when I was very ill.

It took me a long time to get on the stretching wagon, but I found that I actually had tension deep inside the muscles of my legs (where I have a lot of pain). The body hangs together like a web and often stretching one place will affect the rest. There were places on my body where I had to stretch out areas quite far from there to relieve the pain. For example, I started getting terrible pain around my collarbone, but stretching my fingers and hands helped.

I’ve had success with different types of yoga, but initially tried both finding yoga exercises online myself and attending a yoga class with a very inexperienced teacher. Both made me do exercises I shouldn’t have been doing in the first place and I felt worse instead of better.

There are different types of yoga and not all classes are equally suitable, but no one will necessarily tell you that at the start. You also have to be careful NOT to do exercises that are actually too painful, or at least settle for going 80% for it instead of 100%. You may be lucky to have an attentive instructor who sees and helps with your challenges, but otherwise it’s your own job to be careful not to go too hard.