Muscle memory is a term that many people use but do they even understand what they are talking about? In this blog I will explain what we are talking about and how it effects our well-being.
When hearing the term “muscle memory” a lot of people think that the muscle has a memory of it’s own but that is not the case. Muscle memory actually comes from the nervous system. Muscle fibers themselves only do two things; contract or relax. So let me describe the makeup of a muscle to help clear things up here. A skeletal muscle is an organ of the muscular system and consists of skeletal muscle tissue, connective tissue, nerve tissue and blood tissue. Each muscle is comprised of multiple fascicles that are held together by fascia and is connected to at least 2 bones by connective tissue called a tendon. Each fascicle is made up of muscle fibers, nerves and blood vessels all held together with fascia. An individual muscle fiber is comprised of mitochondrion, sarcolemma and myofibril. The myofibril is where the magic of muscle contraction exist. Within the myofibril is what we call a sarcomere, here I am going to get really simple to not over complicate this area, it consists of a small piece of muscle cell, spaces at each end then more muscle cell. When the spaces close they create a muscle contraction.
Now going back to my statement about muscle memory being in the nervous system and not the muscle itself, we are going to talk about what creates a muscle contraction. A skeletal muscle will only contract if it gets a signal from the nervous system to contract. Therefor the “muscle memory” is actually coming from the nervous system. How does that work? I’m glad you asked. When we go to use a skeletal muscle our brain sends a signal to the nervous system to move the muscle. Then the nervous system sends a signal to the motor neuron that is attached to the muscle to have the muscle contract. Once the motor neuron receives the signal it creates a chemical reaction to get the muscle to contract. Essentially a calcium cell is sent to close the electrical gap between the motor neuron and the muscle fibers, releasing a chemical called ADP that jumps from one sarcomere to another turning into ADT hence creating the contraction of the muscle fibers. When the nervous system wants to stop the muscle contraction it sends a signal to the motor neuron and magnesium is used to pull the calcium away from the circuit allowing the muscle fibers to relax again. So when we are over stressed the nervous system is sending nonstop signals to muscle to contract which over works the muscle.
That was a very simple way to describe what happens during a muscle contraction but I hope you take at least 2 things away from this; the importance of magnesium for muscle relaxation and how important it is to CALM the nervous system. Calming the nervous system is just one of the many benefits of massage therapy. So if you are having problems with your muscles not relaxing come see one of our great massage therapist to help you calm down that overactive nervous system so your muscles can relax and recover.
Thank you for taking your time to read this today.