It is a fact that there are about 650 muscles in the human body which comprise about half of our total body weight. So, whenever you feel some pain in your muscles, whether due to a hard gym workout, a basketball game, hard labor, or due to an unexpected muscle injury, make sure you pay attention. Do not ignore this for it could be a warning sign that something is already seriously wrong with your body. Immediate action, usually via consultation with a doctor, will be a great help in preventing additional injuries or lessening the complications of an existing injury.
The Musculatory System
Muscles give form to our skeletal system and allows our body to perform voluntary and involuntary movements. It also helps in regulating body temperature and controls blood flow. Muscles are made up of thousands of fibers that enable them to contract, either to shorten or lengthen, and produce movements. In order for a muscle fiber to attach itself to a bone, it blends itself with connective tissues known as tendons.
There are three main types of muscles. The muscles that are attached to the skeleton which allows us to perform movements are called Skeletal Muscles, or Striated Muscles. Skeletal muscles are considered voluntary muscles which means you have to first think of contracting them and the nervous system tells them to do so. They can also perform two types of contractions. The Twitch, which is characterized by short and single contractions, and the Tetanus, which involves long and sustained contractions.
The second type of muscles are called the Smooth Muscles. These are found in the walls of blood vessels and internal organs such as the digestive system, bladder, airways and the uterus. It provides a series of wavelike contractions known as peristalsis and has the ability to stretch and maintain tension for a long period of time. Smooth muscles move involuntarily, which means that it can contract without conscious effort. These muscles cannot be controlled by your thoughts.
The third type of muscle is called the Cardiac Muscle, which as the term implies, is found in the heart. Being an involuntary muscle, it contracts by itself without the aid of the brain. Like smooth muscles, cardiac muscles can stretch in a limited way with short and single contractions, but still have the force of a skeletal muscle.
Sore Muscles and Muscle Injuries
Muscles become sore when they haven’t been used for a time being and a heavy task to contract them would cause some strain to the fibers, ligaments, and tendons. Or when the muscle is given a task that is quite new such as a first-timer in the gym who had just finished his dumbbell workouts. The used muscle would feel pain, sore and strained due to some microscopic tears in the muscle fibers and tissues. This trauma is a natural reaction of muscles that is why rest is advised to those who workout their muscles in for them to grow bigger, stronger and firmer.
However, if you are experiencing excruciating pain, stop whatever it is you’re doing and have it checked right away. Muscle strain injuries occur more often with eccentric muscle contractions due to the great force produced by such contraction. Tears occur near the muscle-tendon junction and/or the muscle fibers themselves are torn. Violent force and prolonged use can cause tears in the muscles leading to injuries.
Treatment and Medication
Skeletal muscles have the impressive ability to regenerate itself on a daily basis as well as in response to injury. However, some damaged muscles may not become as strong as the way it was before the injury. Healing depends on the severity of the injury.
First aid treatment such as ice therapy can serve as a natural pain relief. Other forms of natural pain relief may entail the use of medicinal herbs, liniments, or therapeutic massage. Continued application of ice to swelling muscle area for three days after the injury helps a lot to decrease inflammation. Make sure ice is not directly applied to the skin. Gradual rehabilitation is needed with the help of stretching exercises until the strength is revived. While there are still no conclusive evidence that specific natural pain relief products are effective, many of these remedies had already been in use for thousands of years.
While undergoing therapy, muscle relaxant medications and anti-inflammatory drugs may help to ease the pain of the injury but it is a given that we must seek medical advice before taking any of these drugs. More often that not, anti-inflammatory drugs are doctor-prescribed and cannot be obtained over-the-counter without the authority of a physician.