Unstick: Muscle Overuse and Underuse

Jarrod C. Fritz


“Colors answer feeling in man; shapes answer thought; and motion answers will.”
– John Sterling


I spend a good amount of time working in conjunction with chiropractors, physical therapists, and personal trainers. These movement specialists all seem to agree that if proper motion isn’t established, then proper function of the body will diminish as well. What is it that limits our movement and restricts our normal functioning? Aside from a small handful of obstructions—such as bone growth, tumors, and other space-occupying lesions—tight muscles are the main culprit.


The interesting thing about muscle tightness is that it can span the full spectrum of causes, meaning that muscles can become tight and “stick” together from overuse or by underuse of the muscle. With overuse, the muscle fibers become stressed and tear due to activity. In most cases, we engage in activity before the muscle has had time to fully recover, so the body lays down scar tissue to prevent movement and help with healing. If there is any lack of proper nutrients in the body, reformation and reintegration of the scar tissue becomes drastically diminished.This leads to the muscle fibers not moving properly or “sticking.” In the case of underuse, we consider the old adage “if you don’t use it, you lose it," referring to movement in this case. Imagine gears to machinery and how if they aren’t moved frequently over time and not well maintained, movement will become much more difficult or may even seize up. Muscle fibers will almost start “fusing” together if the muscles aren’t being stretched or activated on a regular basis.


Proper nutrition, adequate hydration levels, and regular treatment and stretching will promote quicker recovery from activity, as well as avoiding the underuse side effects. Therapeutic massage helps to remove toxins and metabolic wastes that increase the “gluing” between fibers. Another way therapeutic massage stops the unwanted stick of muscle fibers is by breaking down the scar tissue that caused the adhesion, then helping to reform the muscle and reintegrate the nerves.


If you think you are having any “sticking” issues with your movement or maybe certain movement don’t seem quite as easy anymore, you may want to seek out professional assistance to get you back to proper moving order.