Lots of people say lots of stupid things (what a way to start an article, eh?). Unfortunately, that includes health professionals.
I’ve written extensively about the stupid things that personal trainers do and say.
In an effort to tick everyone off, I’m going to look outside of my industry, and explain the stupid things that other health professionals (both conventional and alternative medical professionals) say. As well as why they’re stupid.
Man, I’m going to get some hate mail from this. Oh well. Such is life.
“YOU FEEL TIGHT”
One thing that massage therapists, chiropractors and osteopaths often say is “you’re tight.” The implication is that the tightness is the reason for your pain. The implication is also that you have limited range of motion.
Those implications are false.
First of all, on the “tightness = pain” claim, one study decided to examine that. The researchers decided to use a machine to help them find tight spots in the subjects’ upper trapezius (upper back/shoulders). They found a few tight spots, and they didn’t correlate very well with pain. At all. What actually happened (ironically) that the spots that weren’t tight experienced more pain when pushed than the spots that were tight. And even then, it wasn’t a strong relationship.
Furthermore, you think that when a manual therapist is touching you, there’s a lot of validity behind that. Well, there isn’t.
In one systematic review, researchers looked at how much do manual practitioners agree with each other. The answer was very little. Ten manual practitioners could touch a patient’s lower back, and they all have strong opinions on what they’re feeling. But they’re 10 different opinions. For a test to have validity and reliability, it should be that regardless of who’s performing the test, the result will be the same. Unfortunately, just touching a person and feeling the texture of the muscle has very little agreement between practitioners on what they’re feeing.
So hopefully we’ve broken down that myth — that the subjective feeling of tightness is the cause of pain. And by making a muscle less tight (in that therapist’s opinion — because often, 2…