Massage Matters

Mindful musings on massage, muscles, and moxie

The Knot Whisperer Rides!

The Knot Whisperer Rides!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How'd I Get That Pain? Part 3, Limbs

As noted in part 1 of this article, there are times when there is little doubt about why you have a particular pain. But if you have a muscle pain that seems to come from nowhere, factors such as those listed in the article linked to below might be responsible—factors that could be avoided in the future. Of course, when you can’t dodge an ache, it’s time to see your massage therapist! Calf pain? An ache in your forearm? Hamstrings killing you? You might have gotten that soreness this way:



Stressors of That Muscle


Top (or hairy side) of the forearm, from the outer edge of the elbow to the base of each finger

Repetitive forceful hand gripping and repetitive extension; weeding with a trowel, extensive handshaking, or Frisbee throwing; faulty mechanics (e.g., typing playing musical instruments)


Inside (or nonhairy side) of the forearm, from the inner edge of the elbow to the base of each finger or the base of the palm

Prolonged gripping or grasping (e.g., working with hand tools, racquet sports); being in professions such as massage therapy, carpentry, weight lifting, waiting tables, chefs

Pronator teres

Around the inner side of the elbow

Gripping ski poles for long periods of time; holding small hand tools lightly


Above and around the outer part of the elbow to the nearest third of the radius from there

Repetitive or sustained supination (rotation in which palm faces upward) of hand, especially with elbow straight as in “flipping” a briefcase onto a table, wrestling with a stiff doorknob, mis-hitting a ball off-center, twisting a racquet with elbow completely extended, wringing clothes; opening jars, working with a screwdriver

Triceps brachii

From the top, back of the shoulder joint to the back of the elbow

Strain from sports (e.g., “mis-hit” tennis ball or improper golf swing); overuse of forearm crutches or a cane that’s too long; prolonged extension lacking elbow support (e.g., holding down a sheet of paper while writing or doing needlepoint work); push-ups or overhead and bench presses


Top of the outer edge of the upper arm to the far outer edge of the radius

Combining gripping and twisting motions as in sports (tennis and other racquet sports)


From about midway down the inside of the upper arm to the front side of the top of the ulna

Heavy overload from lifting (e.g., holding a power tool or meticulous ironing)

Biceps brachii

From the inner side of the scapula to the inside of the elbow

Unaccustomed vigorous repeated supination (e.g., using a screwdriver); lifting heavy objects with the hand supinated; sustained elbow flexion (e.g., playing a violin or guitar, using electric hedge clippers)


Upper outer edge of the fibula to behind the outer edge of the ankle

A fall with twisting and turning inward of the ankle; weakness from prolonged underuse (e.g., being in a cast or mostly sitting day and night); lower leg length inequality; poor arches; pronated feet

Flexor digitorum longus and flexor hallucis longus

Down the back surface of the tibia to the sole of the foot and the base of the big toe, respectively

Hyperpronation or an unstable foot; a badly worn shoe (esp. with runners) that creates an unstable gait; an inflexible shoe sole that prevents normal extension of the foot and toe joints during walking or running; walking and running on sand, especially barefoot

Tibialis posterior

Underneath the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles

Running on uneven surfaces or being new to running; excessive pronation; footwear that is badly worn or encourages turning the foot outward or rocking

Extensor digitorum longus and extensor hallucis longus

Along the shin bone to the start of the toe bones on the top of the foot

Steep accelerator pedal in a car; sitting for long periods with the feet back under a chair; nervous twitching of the foot

Tibialis anterior

From the top of the outer edge of the tibia to the top of the foot

Catching the toe on an obstruction; overuse, such as during running (leading to shin splints)


From the outer surface of the lower end of the femur to the top of the back of the tibia

Excessive pronation; playing soccer or football, running, twists or slides, especially when running or skiing downhill; tearing of the posterior cruciate ligament


Long flat muscle under gastrocnemius

Wearing high heels, slipping or losing balance; sitting in a chair that is too high; too tight and/or high stocking or elastic-band socks that may limit blood supply; ice skating, roller blading, or skiing without good ankle support; lower leg length inequalities


From the inner and outer surfaces of the bottom of the femur to the back of the heel

Physical overload and/or bad positioning of the foot (e.g., climbing steep slopes, riding a bicycle with the seat too low, wearing a cast on the leg); wearing high heels, prolonged driving in a car, certain sleep positions


From the base of the pubic bone to the top of the inner side of the femur

Lower limb length inequality; horseback riding, gymnastics, soccer (running and kicking at the same time); sitting cross-legged; sitting with the hips in a jackknifed position

Adductor brevis and longus

From the lower edge of the pubic bone to the upper inside edge of the femur

Strenuous horseback riding, in-line skating, cross-country skiing; sitting in a fixed position with hips acutely flexed and on thigh or leg crossed over the other knee

Adductor magnus

The large triangular muscle that starts at the lower inside edge of the pubis and attaches the base of the butt and the inside of the femur

Sitting in chairs for long periods; chronic hamstring strain and fascial distortion; pelvic misalignment; lower leg length inequality


From the front of the outer edge of the hipbone to the upper inside part of the tibia

Prolonged sitting in a cross-legged “tailor’s” position; excessive pronation of the foot


From the lower part of the pubis to the inner side of the knee

Slipping and resisting spreading legs while trying to recover balance; overenthusiastic exercising; structural knee dysfunction; postural imbalance

Vastus muscles

From the top of the inner and outer edges of the femur to just below the knee cap

Pronated arch; structural misalignment in the pelvis; imbalance between vastus lateralis and vastus medialis

Rectus femoris

Top of the front of the thigh to top of the knee cap

Jumping, running downhill, skiing, weight lifting, deep knee bends; lordosis (when the spine curves outward at its base; a swaybacked posture)

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