Individuals that have experienced a muscle strain, pull, spasm, etc., that has healed can begin to behave overly cautious, avoiding putting full weight on the area or using full motion out of fear of re-injuring it. This can and does strain other body areas because of the imbalance and awkward positioning. It also leads to anxiety, emotional distress, and decreased self-confidence in everyday movement. Adjustments, massage, and decompression therapy can maintain musculoskeletal health, and a chiropractor can help retrain individuals on healthy posture and confident movement. Muscle Guarding After Strain or Injury Chiropractor

Muscle Guarding

Muscles can be held in a position of readiness to act, like the stress response of fight or flight. When this happens, the muscles are partially contracted in preparation for action and is a form of muscle-guarding. But once the fight or flight passes, the muscles relax into their normal position. With injury muscle guarding, the fears and stresses after recovering from an injury can cause the injured and non-injured muscles to stay in the guarded/semi-contracted position. The longer the muscle guarding continues, fatigue begins to set in, decreasing function, restricting mobility, and making the body more vulnerable to damage and injury.

The Brain

The discomfort, pain, or just the thought reinforces the need to guard the area. The brain will find a way to move without causing pain and create compensating but unhealthy movement patterns that strain the other areas of the body. The body adapts to not using the formerly injured muscles and now relies on the other muscles to perform the functions in a non-relaxed state that can become normal, causing stiffness, soreness, tenderness, tendon tension, and pain.

  • An example is a hip strain, pull or spasm that has been treated and has healed, but the individual is fearful of another injury or going through the painful experience again and begins walking by shifting all their weight to the other side and steps with a limp or some abnormal motion that strains and/or injures the rest of the body.

Chiropractic Treatment and Retraining

Individuals experiencing muscle guarding can find help through chiropractic to retrain their muscles to return to their normal position and regain confidence in their movements. The body will be rebalanced by releasing and relaxing the tight muscles. Then therapeutic repetitive movements, specialized exercises, stretches, and relaxation techniques will help the individual relearn to use the muscles without fear.

Protective Muscle Guarding


Hanlon, Shawn et al. “Examining Ankle-Joint Laxity Using 2 Knee Positions and With Simulated Muscle Guarding.” Journal of athletic training vol. 51,2 (2016): 111-7. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-51.3.06

Olugbade, Temitayo et al. “The relationship between guarding, pain, and emotion.” Pain reports vol. 4,4 e770. 22 Jul. 2019, doi:10.1097/PR9.0000000000000770

Prkachin, Kenneth M et al. “Pain behavior and the development of pain-related disability: the importance of guarding.” The Clinical journal of pain vol. 23,3 (2007): 270-7. doi:10.1097/AJP.0b013e3180308d28

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The information herein on "Muscle Guarding After Strain or Injury Chiropractic Sciatica Clinic" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*


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Dr. Alex Jimenez
Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Deep Health Instruction, Integrative & Functional Medicine, Functional Fitness, Chronic Degenerative Disorder Treatment Protocols, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Wellness Nutrition, Wellness Detoxification Protocols and Functional Medicine for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility. Purpose & Passions: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures focused on clinical physiology, total health, functional strength training, functional medicine, and complete conditioning. We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal and soft tissue injuries. We use Specialized Chiropractic Protocols, Wellness Programs, Functional & Integrative Nutrition, Agility & Mobility Fitness Training and Cross-Fit Rehabilitation Systems for all ages. As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we too offer our patients, disabled veterans, athletes, young and elder a diverse portfolio of strength equipment, high-performance exercises and advanced agility treatment options. We have teamed up with the cities' premier doctors, therapist and trainers in order to provide high-level competitive athletes the options to push themselves to their highest abilities within our facilities. We've been blessed to use our methods with thousands of El Pasoans over the last 3 decades allowing us to restore our patients' health and fitness while implementing researched non-surgical methods and functional wellness programs. Our programs are natural and use the body's ability to achieve specific measured goals, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, controversial hormone replacement, un-wanted surgeries, or addictive drugs. We want you to live a functional life that is fulfilled with more energy, a positive attitude, better sleep, and less pain. Our goal is to ultimately empower our patients to maintain the healthiest way of living. With a bit of work, we can achieve optimal health together, no matter the age, ability or disability.