What is a contracture?


In order to talk about decontracting massage, we must first know what a muscle contracture is.

We must know that it is a muscular contracture because the decontracting massage serves to relieve and eliminate muscular contractures, pain, lack of elasticity and mobility.

When there is a contracture in our body, we usually notice it, most of the time, due to pain and/or limited movement. A  muscle contracture  is an involuntary contraction of one or more muscles. It can last between five or ten days, it usually appears when making a great physical effort or a bad posture for a long time.

In the image we can see the back of a man in black and white, in which two red pain points stand out in the neck and lower back.

The muscles contract and relax, when a muscle area that contracts and does not relax, a contracture is created. The affected area remains swollen and hard, which is why we notice a bulge or swelling to the touch, commonly called a ‘knot’.

A contracture is not a serious injury, but it is annoying. This can prevent us from performing some movements normally, due to the pain or discomfort that it usually creates.

Types of muscle contractures

There are three types of muscle contractures those that are created during the effort, the after the effort and the residual ones.


Contractures created  during an effort :  When an effort is high, either due to lack of training, due to its prolonged duration or due to the hardness of the exercise, the body cannot purify the metabolites through the bloodstream and they accumulate, causing pain and inflammation.

Contractures created  after the effort : In this case, the contracture appears because the muscle cannot return to its resting state. It usually happens after an intense exercise, where the muscle has supported a great workload, and because of the accumulated fatigue it cannot return to its natural state.

Residual contractures  : After a serious injury (a fibrillar rupture, a fracture, trauma or a sprain), as a protection mechanism, the muscles adjacent to the injured area contract. Once the main injury has been recovered, the contiguous musculature is usually contracted.

Another way to classify contractures is according to their cause:

The image is in black and white, in which the head of a woman who screams in pain and holds her head in her hands stands out in red. She surely has a contracture in the trapezius.

Post  -traumatic or defensive contractures . Those that occur after an impact. We could compare it with residual contractures.

Postural contractures  . They occur slowly and progressively, they are caused by bad postures or poorly made gestures over a long period of time. Like sleeping badly or having a bad posture at work.

Hypotonic contractures  . They occur when the muscle is weak and we request a strong and/or rapid contraction, in this case to avoid fiber breakage a contracture occurs. These are usually produced with sports practice. They are also known as muscle spasms.

Dehydration contractures  . Dehydration and the accumulation of toxic substances can create cervical stiffness, pain when moving and even headaches or dizziness.

How to relieve a contracture in the back.

Now that we know what a muscle contraction is, we are going to talk about how to alleviate the discomfort it causes at home.

In the image we can see how a masseuse is exerting pressure on the trapezoids of a muscular man to show that it is a muscular contracture.
  1. Use heat to deflate the area.
  2. Do slow, gentle stretches.
  3. Go to a professional to give you a relaxing massage in the area.
  4. If with steps 1 and 2 the pain does not decrease, apply a local analgesic in the area or take an anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen).
  5. Continue practicing gentle physical activity to reduce tension in the area.
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