A sport that is gaining popularity around the world is rock climbing and it can be seen everywhere you look — cliffsides, national parks, indoor gyms, cruise ships, and natural boulder formations and crags found on sea coasts, in deserts, and mountains.
Climbers sometimes suffer from soft tissue related pulls and strains, and the vast majority of those are overuse injuries. They generally occur in the fingers, elbows, and shoulders. They also happen throughout the upper extremity (upper and lower arm), neck, upper and lower back, and knees. Often compounding these injuries are what we call “common compensatory strain patterns”.
If you’ve sustained bodily injury during a climb, please see a physician for first aid and to rule out any type of serious injury. Manchester-Bedford Myoskeletal LLC does not have a medical physician on staff. We cannot diagnose problems and do not prescribe any type of medication.
What We Do
Please visit other pages throughout our website by clicking the on the tabs on the menu at the top of the page. You will learn details of the type of work we do at Manchester-Bedford Myoskeletal, where we’re located and our rates. You can also view real life testimonials from other patients. And you can contact us to make an appointment or to send us feedback.
MBM‘s owner is an indoor climber and frequents area climbing gyms in Goffstown, Manchester, and Nashua. We’re familiar with the types of soft tissue problems and injuries facing climbers and understand how much a muscle dysfunction affects your climbing ability. We all want to get back onto the wall as soon as we can with unrestricted, pain-free motion.
Because all climbers share that motivation, our massage service protocols are tailor-made for you! We are not a spa massage type clinic. In most massage experiences, you the client are entirely passive, save for the once-an-hour turnover on the table. With our protocols, you are an active participant throughout the process. Let me repeat this because it is important:When you become a patient at MBM,
you must be an active participant in your own recovery, muscle retraining, and restrengthening.
If you do not wish to participate in or do not follow our post-appointment regimens,
you may not have a successful or timely recovery.
We assess your problem using several methods. For some people, this may be somewhat tedious because people know where they hurt and expect us to work on the spot where pain appears. Rest assured that our assessments are geared toward your particular functionality, history, a consultation with you, and getting a lot of questions answered. The more we know, the better we’re able to help track down your dysfunction and begin remedying compensations, strains and pain patterns. Please have patience. We do not chase pain. We look for the source of dysfunction wherever it may appear.
How Do I Know I’m A Candidate?
We assess every prospective patient. Not all patients are candidates for myoskeletal work, but we find that many are. We often refer non-candidates out to other health care providers who we feel would be better suited for their problem. Some patients are referred for other medical reasons, whether our work is contraindicated for their condition or other health concerns.
We also do other forms of remedial massage work, as you’ll see elsewhere in our website. Some of our patients are referred for treatment by their physicians. Most are self-referred or referred by other patients.
A vast majority of soft tissue injuries occur in climbers’ fingers, particularly to the flexor tendons and flexor tendon pulleys. We’ll assess the muscles of the arms to determine candidacy for myoskeletal massage. But please be aware not all soft tissue work can be resolved using massage therapy.
Here is a list of assorted climbing related injuries MBM sees. This list is not all-inclusive, and not everyone who has one or more of these issues is necessarily a candidate for treatment.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Pronator teres syndrome
- Forearm & wrist flexor & extensor pain
- Medial & lateral epicondylitis
- Frozen shoulder
- Limited shoulder motion
- Neck stiffness or pain
- Biceps long-head tendon out of groove
- Muscle cramping
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Numbing or tingling in hands, fingers, arms
- Pain or restriction in raising arms above shoulder height
- Restriction in torso rotation
- Pain in the butt (literally)
- Soreness on the inside of the thighs
- Low back pain
- Hip pain or limitation
- Knee pain
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
- Excessive neck or low back curve
- Functional leg length discrepancy
More On Muscle Compensation
It is rare for muscle inhibitions to occur where pain is actually felt. We know this to be the case because we’ve learned that no one muscle performs skeletal movement on its own. Rather, there are strings of muscles we call “kinetic chains” brought to bear when functional movement takes place. This happens whether the movement is gross (such as a leg swinging in gait) or complex (such as picking up a pen with your fingers).
For instance, you don’t just let go of a hand hold and grab the next one without involving a whole lot more! Let’s say you’re reaching for a handhold above you with your right arm. First, your core must stabilize in order for you to unweight that hand. Your abdominal muscles tighten, your thoracolumbar muscles brace up, the opposite torso rotators engage to support the left shifting of gravitational center over and upwards within your body, a force couple occurs in the right scapular region and your shoulder girdle and rotator cuff series engage or disengage to raise your arm. Your hand and wrist flexors relax to let go of the lower hold, then tighten again when you grab the hold above. Meanwhile, movement along the kinetic chain extends down the right side of your body, across near the waist, and on down the left leg to bear the weight released by the right leg to counter gravity and maintain balance before your weight is distributed through the four contacts on the wall. Over forty different muscles are used to complete this movement, and we’ve only moved one arm!
But let’s also say that your hip-hiking muscles on the right are inhibited. In other words, when your brain calls on the right quadratus lumborum (QL) muscle (spanning your 12th rib at the top, spine on the inside, and top of your pelvic crest on the bottom), suppose it gets a “nobody’s home” afferent neural message in reply instead of the muscle contracting properly? What will the brain do? You guessed it: It calls other muscles to do the hip hike. It leaves the QL muscle in the dust. It finds whatever muscles it can to accomplish the task, even if those muscles are in your NECK! In other words, it COMPENSATES!
Now, if this happened several times over, a couple of things might take place: (1) The QL muscle gets weak because other muscles are doing its work and, like a couch potato, it gets sloppy and lazy; (2) The brain stops calling the QL and goes straight for compensatory muscles time and again; (3) The compensatory muscle(s) become facilitated and act like the “pick me!” muscle in the chain, overriding or inhibiting the QL no matter what the brain opts to do; (4) The QL starts complaining (pain) of atrophy and limited range of motion; (5) The compensatory muscle starts complaining (pain) because it was never meant to do as much work as it is now doing; (6) Other muscles start hurting because the compensatory muscle is now facilitated and its affects are being felt in other chains the compensatory muscle is a link in.
How this all materializes depends on the individual person, their activity, their functionality, skeletal structure, muscle tone, their health history, dominant sides, breathing, training, and a whole host of other variables. What you can derive from all this jibberjabber is plain and simple: There is rarely a one-size-all answer to what is going on in YOUR body when compared to someone else, even another climber or athlete.
Note to athletes: Strength is NO indicator of muscle facilitation or inhibition. The strongest people in the world can easily have compensations going on (and probably do!) and never know because the brain was rewired long ago. In other words, our work together is not a test or challenge of your strength and in no way indicates any kind of insult to your athleticism or capabilities as climbers. It’s simply a matter of locating and correcting the neural pathway of communication to the correct muscles in your functional movement.
Here are a few examples of muscle compensation from recent patients:
- Jaw muscles were facilitated for quadratus lumborum (a hip hiker)
- The lower part of rectus femoris (the muscle in the front of your thigh) was facilitated for the upper part of the same muscle!
- Scalenes (neck muscles that do lateral flexion) facilitated for flexor digitorum longus (forearm flexor)
- Upper trapezius facilitated for gluteus medius (a hip abductor)
- Psoas facilitated for transverse abdominus
- Anterior deltoid facilitated for the long head of the biceps
- Right side sternocleidomastoid (SCM, a neck flexor) facilitated for left side QL, left side gluteus maximus, left and right psoas, (torso and hip flexors) and right side rectus femoris.
Wait! Can one facilitated muscle inhibit more than one muscle like that? I’ve heard of one single muscle inhibiting as many as 53 other muscles!
Point is, compensations do happen, they happen a lot, and they can happen to everyone. We’ll look for yours and we’ll work to correct them. And so will you! Typically, once this dysfunction is found and corrected properly, pain disappears, muscles become pliable, fascia no longer restricts range of motion, and, most importantly, your optimal function is returned.
Can’t Climbers Just Live With Compensations?
You can, of course. You’ve been living with them thus far, haven’t you? But now you’re in pain or you’re unable to reach behind your back the way you used to or you or someone else noticed that you seem to squat funny or you feel something in your back pulling when you haven’t been doing any heavy lifting for weeks and you don’t know why. Your body is telling you something. And chances are it has been telling you something for a while now; you just haven’t been listening. Or you have been, but, being the kind of person who can “work through it”, you’ve just pushed yourself more, hoping the pain would fade away in time. We all do it.
Or, perhaps you’ve already tried to get it taken care of. You may have seen another massage therapist or physical therapist or chiropractor or your doctor. Maybe they didn’t resolve your issue or they resolved it temporarily, and now it’s back again.
This is why Manchester-Bedford Myoskeletal is different.
- We go after the source, not the pain
- We work to relax tight muscles, increase your range of motion, loosen up fascial adhesions, and break up scar tissue
- We locate the facilitated and inhibited muscles and try to reconnect the neural link between the motor control center and the muscles themselves
- We help you retrain and strengthen the muscles and movement patterns
- and we assess your advances all along the way.
We currently are, to our knowledge, the only massage clinic in New Hampshire who works with these protocols.
Muscle pain and compensation, range of motion limitations, and skeletal misalignment are what we do, and climbers will clearly benefit from our working with them. We hope you’ll choose Manchester-Bedford Myoskeletal LLC for your massage therapist. Click here to schedule an appointment today.
Read more information about common compensatory strain patterns here.