I learned something fascinating about muscle contraction recently. It seems counter-intuitive, but it actually takes more energy for a muscle to relax than to contract. In fact, it takes twice as much. Weird, eh? Here's how it works:
- When a muscle contracts, small pouches in the cells release calcium.
- For the muscle to relax, the cell needs to pump the calcium back into the pouch.
- When energy is low, the cell can't perform that job and the muscle stays contracted.
More and more, researchers are looking at how our cells and the mitochondria within them function to uncover what's going on in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It's becoming more accepted that we've got dysfunction there, so that helps clarify why our muscles refuse to unclench.
I almost always have muscles in spasm. For the past several weeks, my neck muscles have been taut, hard and painful. I've had some temporary relief from acupuncture and cupping, but very little help from massage, heat, ice, stretching, topical muscle creams, etc. Once I learned about the connection to low cellular energy, I started taking more of the supplements that can boost it, and wouldn't you know -- on the days that I've taken more, the muscles have been more relaxed. Since I'm not taking maximum dosages of any, I'm now planning to increase them permanently.
According to some research, supplements that can increase cellular energy and mitochondrial function include:
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