There is a third reason why I recommend full-body treatments over spot treatment.
It is also related to our three-dimensional nature of our embodiment and how we manage to move.
To produce movement in any of these planes of motion, the human body uses a complex system of skeletal muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments etc. that act as levers and pulleys and which works in all the planes of motion.
In previous posts I gave two reasons why I always recommend a full-body massage over spot treatment -number one; it takes time to relax properly and number two; we are three dimensional beings moving through space in three planes of movement:
My third argument for full-body treatments is also related to our three-dimensional nature of our embodiment. It has to do with how we manage to move and the design of our musculoskeletal system.
To produce movement in any of these planes of motion, the human body uses a complex system of skeletal muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments etc. that act as levers and pulleys and which works in all the planes of motion.This system gives us tremendous mechanical advantage by turning a small force into much bigger force.
In our bodies, our bones act as lever arms, our joints as the pivots or fulcrums while our muscles supply the force to move a load e.g. the body parts we want to engage to push or pull objects in our external environment e.g. carry a heavy load, kicking a ball or lifting a mug.
To use the strength advantage and the movement advantage of levers, our muscles have to generate the force by contracting and relaxing muscle fibres.
This alters the way the muscle moves, the direction in which it moves and the angle at which it moves.
But muscles, like wolves, run in packs.
To get a joint to move, you need a leader.
Agonist is the leader or prime mover. The agonist muscle creates tension by contracting and initiating the desired movement.
As in any group however, there is a member who challenges the leader. Meet Antagonist.
The antagonist muscle opposes the action initiated by the agonist resulting in a tension that helps control the motion by slowing it down, halting it and bringing the limb back to its original position.
Actually the anatagonist has a very important function. It prevents damage and unguided movement.
But thanks to the loyal support of one or more Synergist, the agonist is not completely hampered by the anatagonist. The synergist muscles perform the same set of joint motion as the agonist and contribute to neutralising the antagonist’s opposing movement.
Together the synergist and the forth member of the pack, Fixator, stabilise the joint around which movement is occurring.
To explain the role that different groups of muscles play, let’s look at a movement we perform every day.
LET'S TAKE TEA
When you lift your mug of rooibos tea to your mouth, the biceps brachii or upper arm muscle contracts to bend the elbow. In this case, the biceps is the prime mover or agonist.
At the same time the triceps brachii muscle at the back of the arm, stretches to keep up with the shortened biceps as the elbow joint bends and pulls the forearm towards the shoulder.
But the triceps can only stretch so far. By inhibiting the biceps it takes on the role of antagonist preventing the elbow from flexing too fast or too far.
Once you put the mug down again, the same procedure is repeated in reverse.
And that is how it goes among groups of muscles all over the body evertime you move todo anything.
But these partnerships among muscles are flexible arrangement.
Depending on which movement is produced, a muscle can take on any of the roles, often seamlessly moving from one to the other on all three planes of movement.
Admittedly this summary is a rather superficial, explanation of how and where movement occurs in the human body.
But I hope that you will appreciate, as I never cease to do, the complexity as well as multi-dimensionality of our bodies.
Yes, I agree, a back massage could influence the muscles in the front of the body too, and an upper body massage may well be beneficial to the gluteals and legs, but imagine what can be done when, through a full body massage, your brain is updated about the state of all three physical dimensions you exist in.
And we have not even touched on what massage can do for your state of mind and emotions!
Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world
Do you prefer a full body massage or spot treatment like head neck and shoulders only?
Body-mind or mind-body? If you are struggling with physical and mental pain and feel that the dominant health paradigm’s dualistic approach to mind and body seems inadequate to explain anything, I want to talk to you. Join me under the tree in my garden for a cup of rooibos tea and let’s talk massage and SomaSense!