Remedial massage and myotherapy treatments are fantastic for releasing muscle tension and loosening up the tight spots. But unless you’re in the clinic a few times a week, there’s a good chance you’re still
dealing with tight muscles in your daily life.
There are heaps of contributing factors to tight muscles. How you move, how you sleep and how you spend your time can all affect your muscles.
But one thing that you might not immediately think of is your diet. There are specific nutrients that your muscles need to contract (tighten) during movement and then relax during stretching or when you’re at rest. One well-known mineral is magnesium – also known as the relaxation mineral.
So I asked my nutritionist bestie Sam Gemmell, aka The Rebel Nutritionist, for her top tips around using magnesium to keep your muscles in peak condition.
My favourite fun fact from Sam is that dark chocolate is a great source of magnesium, and officially Nutritionist Approved! (Of course, in moderation!)
Why do we need more magnesium?
Simply put, because we aren’t getting enough. Most people don’t consume enough through the diet.
Magnesium is generally found in wholefoods, which we’re eating less of thanks to the increase in
But even for those who do eat enough, other factors such as chronic stress can deplete magnesium
levels. If you have any kind of gut symptoms such as bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, you might not be able to absorb a good amount of magnesium from the foods you eat. There is also the issue of food containing less magnesium than previous years because the soils are being depleted of this vital nutrient.
Magnesium is often called the relaxation mineral, but that’s too simple a term. It is used in over 300 different processes in the body. Healthy magnesium levels support energy production, muscle
relaxation, blood sugar regulation, optimal blood pressure, bone strength and production of brain
chemicals – just to name a few functions!
Magnesium-rich foods to include
The most sustainable way to boost your magnesium levels is to eat it! But the good news is that
there are plenty of foods that contain magnesium. Some of the best options include:
As you can see, there is a variety of different options that cater to almost any dietary requirements.
For best results, I’d recommend including at least one serve of magnesium-rich foods with every
meal. This might mean:
Oats, quinoa flakes or nut butter on wholemeal toast for breakfast
Bean salad, fish and quinoa or sushi with wholegrain rice for lunch
Adding a serve of green leafy vegetables to dinner (eg in your bolognaise sauce or soup)
Other methods of boosting magnesium
Sometimes, boosting your magnesium-rich foods is all you need to get results. But if you have very
low magnesium levels, or have any kind of stress or condition depleting your levels, you might need to use food combined with other strategies.
An easy way to get more magnesium in is with a supplement. That being said, please don’t just pick up a magnesium bottle from the supermarket! Magnesium supplements can vary from high-quality to very poor quality (which will give you nothing but diarrhoea!)
The forms of magnesium found in most over-the-counter products can be irritating to the gut lining. These are best avoided for anyone with impaired digestion, absorption or any current gut
Your best bet is to see a practitioner who can recommend a high-quality practitioner brand. This also means you have some guidance around which supplement best suits your needs, as well as how much to take. You could even book a consultation with Sam at The Rebel Nutritionist, she would love to help you!
If you have issues with taking magnesium supplements or have very low levels, transdermal
magnesium might be an alternative to try. The magnesium is absorbed through the skin. The exact
amount of magnesium that makes it into your system isn’t well-researched, but some is better than
You can use transdermal magnesium by using:
Muscles feeling tight? Been a while since your last myotherapy session? Click here to book a session.
You might be familiar with that sharp, shooting pain sensation in your lower back, hip and leg. It can also be felt as numbness, pins and needles, tingling or burning type of sensations. Whatever way the pain or symptoms present, it runs along the Sciatic nerve - which is why this is referred to as Sciatica.
But did you know theres more than one potential cause behind this pain?
Often this pain can be linked to muscle tension in the glutes and hips. The Sciatic nerve runs underneath the muscles of your glutes, and when it gets compressed there it can be a real pain in the bum - literally!
Because this nerve runs all the way down to your feet, the jolts of nerve pain can sometimes be felt anywhere from just localised in your buttocks and hip, to the back of your thigh, behind the knee, straight down your lower leg and even into the base of your foot.
The Sciatic nerve can be impacted at the root of the nerve near the spine, however this doesn't always mean there will be pain. Often this is called a Bulging Disc or Herniated Disc, but you might be surprised to learn that even though "Bulging Disc" sounds pretty awful, studies have shown that more than 50% of people over 40 with no pain symptoms at all can have a disc bulge show on scans.
Irritation or compression of the Sciatic nerve can be common after serious trauma to your leg or lower back. Things like car accidents, falls, and horse riding accidents are all common high impact incidents that can aggravate the nerve. If you've had an injury like this, its wise to seek treatment for it.
Do you have Sciatic nerve pain or nerve symptoms of numbness, tingling and pins and needles? Book an appointment with us to have an assessment and treatment. If we can resolve the issue, we'll create you a treatment plan that includes manual therapies and a take home exercise program.
More serious causes do exist, so if treatment of the muscles and joints is not relieving your pain, we'll refer you to see your GP to rule out any serious structural or pathological conditions.
We all know that our bodies are full of these things called nerves, but have you ever wondered how they work to control your body?
Lets have a look at two important types of nerves in your body - the ones that tell you sensory information like touch or taste, and the ones that move your muscles and joints.
Sensory nerves are responsible for everything you feel or sense. The five senses - sight, sound, touch, taste and smell - all fall under this category.
Any awareness you have of the feeling or sensation of your body comes from the sensory nerves.
The main sub types of these nerve receptors are mechanoreceptors, chemoreceptors and thermoreceptors.
Mechanoreceptors respond to pressure and touch. When you feel muscles stretch out, or when you're aware of the chair you're sitting on, thats all thanks to mechanoreceptors.
Chemoreceptors send information about chemical changes. This could be like the warming feeling of rubbing Deep Heat over your sore shoulder, as well as internal biochemical changes, like lactic acid build up after doing a big workout.
Thermoreceptors tell us about temperature. They respond when you touch something hot or cold, and are the reason you'll quickly pull your hand away from a hot stove to avoid a serious burn.
Then we have your Motor nerves, these are the ones that control movement.
Every time you make a movement, its because these Motor nerves are sending a signal from your brain to the muscle they activate saying "Move!"
Fun fact - muscles can only ever pull, they can't push! So when you activate your biceps to bend your elbow the biceps muscle contracts and gets shorter which pulls your forearm upwards. When you want to stretch your elbow back out straight, your Motor nerves activate your triceps which then pull your forearm back down to straighten the elbow.
Everything in the body is controlled by nerve signals. The brain is like the control centre, and the nerves move out from the brain into all the tissue of your body - muscles, joints, organs, the lot.
Some nerves can be over a metre long, like the ones that send signals to and from your toes.
The nerves in your arms and hands all connect in via your neck, which is why we like to assess and treat your neck if you're having any pain, or tingling or other "nerve-y" symptoms in your hands and arms.
The same goes from the nerves for your feet and legs - they extend out through your lower back, which is why we consider your back when you come in for treatment for your foot, ankle or leg.
How can you tell if your pain or symptoms are nerve related?
If a Sensory nerve is involved in your pain it can feel like sharp, shooting pains, tingling, pins and needles, numbness, or just feeling "weird" (we call that parasthesia)
If its a Motor nerve thats involved, the muscle groups that nerve activates can be weak, or in extreme situations might not be able to activate at all.
If you think your symptoms may be nerve related, book in with your Myotherapist for a full assessment and treatment plan.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.