I hear the same complaints day in and day out – tight hamstrings, tight calves, tight hip flexors, tight quads.
So much tightness going on!
Then I hear the same solutions being used to solve the tightness – stretching! And yes, I am using the terms solution and solve extremely lightly because the stretching is not really solving anything. If it were, you would not still be tight after weeks (or perhaps months) of stretching.
If you are like most of the people I interact with, you are stretching every day, but it doesn’t seem to be getting any looser. Is that you?
Let’s fix that. Let’s get your stretching to be effective. Or better yet, let’s get rid of the stretching all together! Yep, you heard me right! You do not need to be stretching all the time.
Stretching is ineffective most times because it is the body’s way of protecting itself. Chronic tightness happens for a number of reasons, with the big three reasons being: the area is unstable and the tightness is the way to stabilize the area, the joint is stiff and your body is overworking to get the area to move, or the muscles are weak and becoming overworked so the muscles tighten up in response. You can address the tightness all you want, but unless you address the cause of the tightness the muscles are going to continue to be tight.
If you still want to stretch because you feel you need to, no problem. You simply need to be following it up with retraining. It is a process of ‘gain the range, train the range.’ This means once you finish your stretch, you need to teach the body how to use, control, and stabilize that motion. For example, if you do calf stretches, you then need to do something to teach your body how to use the motion you just gained in your ankle. If you do not do that second part, the muscle is going to go right back to the length that it was because that is where it knows it can function safely. That theory applies for any and all stretches you do – stretch the area, then load the area!
Personally, I tend to avoid the stretching all together, both for myself and the athletes I work with. Instead, I prefer active mobility drills. This allows you to both improve the mobility and extensibility of a muscle while also teaching the body how to effectively use and control the are of the body through an increased range of motion. Besides, if we are talking about the area tightening up due to weakness or instability, then you might as well work on strengthening and stabilizing while gaining the motion.
You are a busy person, so why not work smarter, not harder, right? Or as I like to say: Train Efficiently. Train Effectively. Train With Purpose!
After reading this, you are probably even more confused on what you need to do to get your muscles loosened up? If so, you are not alone. Most people are not sure what to do. If that is you, let’s chat! Schedule a FREE DISCOVERY CALL to figure out why your muscles are constantly tight and what you need to do about it.
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