Bulk up on muscle health

He might be strong, but is he in the best physical health?

There’s more to muscle health than building and strengthening. Of course, strong muscles aid movement and provide proper support to hold the skeleton erect and aligned. But bulking up muscles too much can cause the opposite effect. It’s important to keep your muscles at their fittest — without overstretching things.

“Muscles are what moves us. Every movement is about our muscles,” says Jenn Coia, LMT, who works at Manhattan’s Spa Merge. “I used to work at a gym when I was in massage school. I’d see these guys with big, hulking muscles and they could barely move. They’re decreasing their range of motion of every joint. If you can’t move, then you’re having to compensate for what should be a natural range of motion.”

The result can be injury, ranging from tightness and soreness in other areas to joint wear and postural problems, including restriction of blood flow or even nerve damage. “That’s why yoga and Pilates took off. They allow you to build toned muscles, but they allow you to be functional,” says Coia.
As a massage therapist, Coia works to heal and prevent further injury on sore and damaged muscles. “If there’s an injury, it can help with the healing of scar tissue by aligning muscle fibers.”

The muscle needs time to repair with simple rest, too. “If you overstretch a muscle, you create micro-tears. That muscle will heal itself because it’s just a micro-injury. But you’ve pushed too hard and need to recover.”

More on fitness:

Work out like a tennis player

Could 15 minutes of exercise a day save your life?

How to get a perfectly lean beach body (even in winter)

Workout tips from Madonna and Gwyneth’s trainer


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