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It has surprised me a few times when I've seen successful massage therapists state that they do not feel anything while massaging clients. Obviously, the job gets done either way, but I am curious, who here can find the pain by touch alone? Or do you need the client to tell you where it hurts?

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Me too. 

Linda LePelley, RN, NMT said:

Gary & Daniel, I think you are both correct! LOL!!

Me three

Gary W Addis said:

Me too. 

Linda LePelley, RN, NMT said:

Gary & Daniel, I think you are both correct! LOL!!

It was so interesting this week! I have a new client who is an active body builder and personal trainer. So, I was finally able to compare TD of a bodybuilder with that of others. I think I mentioned before that the biceps of oil rig workers are usually denser and sometimes fibrous, more difficult to work on. Often, the upper arm feels like a rubbery tree trunk with skin on it at first. So, I expected that a bodybuilders biceps and deltoids would be a lot of hard work to get relaxed. Just the opposite! The muscles were well defined, warm, and malleable. I had no trouble at all palpating the offending tissues or getting to them to concentrate on. And, they responded well, in a reasonable amount of time. I didn't have to spend half an hour softening up the surrounding tissue to get it out of the way. I had assumed that the hard working oil rigger's arm would be very comparable to the hard working body builder's, and they are not at all. I suppose that a body builder is going to be very diligent about nutrition and hydration, any other ideas?

And, oh, yeah! He had no trouble at all completely relaxing! LOL!

The bb also has well balanced musculature--first rule for weight training is to work both sides of every muscle equally.  What you do for biceps, do for triceps, etc.  You got one of the thinking BB.  There is another crowd, though (the more prevalent) who work biceps for big arms and pecs for big chest.  Within six months or so, as the biceps outpace the strength of triceps, the arms attain a permanent half-flex.  As the pecs thicken and the front delts grow while the lats are ignored, the arms are pulled in.  IOW, they become "muscle bound".  After a year or so, the condition will become permanent in the way that a prominent Dowager's hump is permanent. 

One of my first at-home clients was my neighbor, who was in training prior to entering the Air Force's version of Special Forces.  He was in serious training 10 hours per day. I was amazed at the permeability of his muscles.  The wannabe is the guy with the iron under the skin.

This is interesting. I did notice that while he was very muscular, it was all well proportioned, no one area seemed to be more prevalent than any other.

So, overworked muscle becomes hardened? Or are you saying it is a synergistic result of one muscle being overworked next to one that is ignored? In the permanent "muscle bound" state, has the tissue become fibrotic? On the one hand the Special Forces trainer spent 10 hours a day, and his muscles are amazingly permeable. On the other hand, the tissues of someone who doesn't work out correctly becomes hyperdense and hardened. I'd like to understand this better.



Not so much if antagonists receive equal work.  Symmetry--balance-- wins bodybuilding competitions.  The rule is arms, neck calves almost same size, big pecs offset by thick, wide lats and great, sloping traps.  In such a workout routine, muscles that are ignored will develop hellish TPs as they will be overpowered regularly.  Big, thick back? Look for stuff in teres minor/major and subscapularis.  And if those are troublesome, serratus anterior and posterior (inf and sup) may them fits.

I've been reading about the tissue injuries involved with overtraining, so, it must be the resultant muscle fibrosis involved in the elevated TD of those guys with huge, hardened muscles. You say that being muscle bound is a permanent condition, like a dowager's hump? I have had good results in reducing that hump in a couple of clients over the years. One asked me if I could get rid of it, I told her no, but I could ease the pain and tension in it. And then over the next 4-5 weeks, worked it out altogether. Then her sister came in for the same treatment, and another lady. All were in their late 40's and 50's, so the hump had not completely mineralized.


It's that possibility, yes.  But also the absence of bodyfat.  MDs say that 3% is essential protection for organs.  Have you ever seen the guys on a stage?  Even the glutes striated!   You can see the cross-striated strands in the quads and triceps, every facial muscle stands out.  Dehydrated, no salt at all in the diet for two weeks before the competition, for in the body 1 gram of salt will pull 50 grams of water into the spaces between cells.  No liquid beginning night before competition.  Guys who normally consume 5,000-7,000 calories per day cut intake to 500 or so for two-three weeks including only maybe 50 grams of carbs.  While standing on that stage looking so very healthy, they are as close to death as they will get before the hour of their demise. 

Like the Queen song, We Are The Champions!  Champions must become fanatical to their sport.  Table tennis, bodybuilding--you cannot become The Best unless you train harder, longer and deprive yourself more strictly than the other guy.

Science says that you cannot spot reduce, that fat is consumed from the body as a whole.  In explaining this concept to my students, I compared the body's fat storage to a gasoline tank: driving in a circle all day to the right, you won't drain gas from just the right side of the tank, it will burn from all sides equally.  However....

However, there's also this fact.  As a bodybuilder and MT I have noticed that the forearms of, say, a bricklayer with a 50" waist will often be ripped to shreds--very muscular.  IOW, it seems apparent to me that bodyparts that are exercised regularly don't get deposits of new fat--the exercise may not burn existing fat off, but the body won't fill the fat cells in between muscles with new fat where it might interfere with efficient movement.  

Therefore.  Therefore, although some people who train properly exercising opposing muscle groups and don't neglect the small stuff will likely have pliable muscle, in other individuals, the musculature can also be very hard and tight.  Not b/c of tissue damage but b/c of a combination of factors, such as no new fat content laid down in areas that are trained hard.  Oh, I almost overlooked the psychological thingee-- which is a biggee.  

Emotional stress is a major factor in body armoring, especially across the upper back where the hypertonicity is most often found.  The guy I mentioned was body-armoring on the table even as I worked. 

I have never seen any competitions. It seems to me that tissues that have no fat on them and are dehydrated as well are at great risk of injury, the proteins would denature more easily. Is any consideration given pertaining to the acid-base balance? Seems like the low sodium could trigger a cascade of metabolic problems.

I think you are right about spot reduction.

Does all this apply to female bodybuilders as well?

I will just have to wait for someone with a lot of emotional stress related guarding to come along. I don't generally do relaxation massages though, so it might not happen, but I'll take your word for it. :)


Females naturally hold more fat, obviously. 

My first half dozen competitions I lost tremendous amount of mass during contest prep phase.  I first lifted a barbell at 32 yrs old; I weighed a whopping 112#.  Being undersized, my body was hungry for the muscle--I gave it the choice of grow or die.  I measured the bodyparts at least once every day; I stressed if I didn't gain a 16th or 8th inch every week (not possible w/o anabolic steroids).  Six months after my first set, I weighed 171#--a gain of 60#.  Sure, some of the new weight was fat.  So, relying on gym advice before entering my first competition, I went super strict on diet. 

A can of tuna packed in water, 210 calories and 50 grams of protein, a skinless baked chicken breast 184 calories and 34 grams of protein, and for carbs one apple or one baked potato--and I trained very hard for 2-3 hours 6 days per week.  And in less than 3 weeks I lost from 172 to 162. 

One week before competition, I went on salt-loading cycle and began to eat slightly more carbs.  On that restricted dietary intake, I swallowed up to 5 grams per day of salt tablets.  The idea of salt loading is fooling the body into beginning to shed sodium.  Two days out, I cut out all sodium and began to restrict liquid intake; I began to pee prodigious amts of water, and the skin began to tighten.  The day before the competition, I drank no more than 2 glasses of any kind of liquid, and began to carbohydrate load; about dinner time, I cut out all liquid not contained in the fruit I gobbled up (gobbled up as in one apple, one bunch of grapes, one banana.  On the morning of the competition I weighed 152--20 pound fat loss in under 3 weeks.  Skinfold calipers measured my bodyfat content at slightly more than 3%--my striations had striations and I was so dehydrated I could not sweat or pee.  But with no insulating fat covering my very vascular body, with outside temp in Lubbock TX above 100 degrees, I was freezing!  I won that competition.  The moment it ended, along with every other competitor and their families, I rushed to the closest restaurant and ate till I was sick at my stomach.

I won that thing, but at a tremendous cost to my body; took me two years to regain the muscle I lost with the fat.  (i.e., impossible to lose fat w/o also losing muscle, you cannot gain muscle w/o also gaining some fat).  For the next 3 years I placed no higher than 7th in lots of competitions.  The 4th year, having modified my contest prep, I began to consistently take 1st or 2nd.  In 1982 and '84, I won the Mr Georgia; in 1985, I won the Southeastern Mr America; in 1986 while living in Bolivia I won 1st in the Masters Short Class South American Bodybuilding Championships. For that competition I weighed 172 with 18.5" upper arms, a 51" chest and 30" waist and bodyfat percentage of 2.5%! 

I was always sore in at least one bodypart. I never passed a mirror w/o taking a look--not egotism-- to the contrary, critical viewing, because the mirror is a contest prep tool.  I beat a lot of really big guys. so it is less about size than it is symmetry in full development-- 18" arms, 17.5" calves and 18" neck; a huge size differential between chest and waist; tree trunk thighs.  I loved every moment of it.  But today I am still paying a price.  Shoulders constricted, knees achy, triceps tendon easily over-stretched.  But a strong low back, digestive problems galore, diabetes in the valley between disastrous and almost normal.  I too tend to armor-up when touched--for 30+ years I have been hyper-aware, hyper-critical of my appearance.  But for what it's worth (nothing) at 63 I am still noticed walking down the street. 

With my genetics I didn't gain that muscle mass without becoming a cornucopia of pharmacological and physiological knowledge.  I won competitions with brain which powered the brawn.  I took a wee bit of steroid in order to lessen effects of overtraining. Today's top competitors take it by the truckload and very pricey human growth hormone by the cupful.  Steroids can be caught in drug tests; growth hormone cannot.  So the drug tests conducted by NFL, MLB and track-and-field are toadying to the public, not their respective sports.  Females and steroids: females on steroids undergo serious masculation which will be permanent, and grow the kinds of muscles that only a male bodybuilder could admire (but never love).

Undoubtedly, on a cellular level I am still paying a price for the steroids I ingested 30 years ago for a period of about 5 years.

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