Raise your hand if one of these areas is constantly tight on you:
- IT band (OK, technically this cannot get tight, but that is for another day.)
If you raised your hand for at least one of those areas, you are not alone!
Next question to ask yourself, which of these do you do to resolve the tightness?
- Joint mobility
- Strength and stability exercises
- Movement pattern retraining
If you are like the majority of people, you answered stretching and rolling. Was that your answer?
Now let me guess…It is not working to resolve the tightness, is it?
There is a reason for that! Your muscles are not tight simply because they want to be tight. They are tight because they are 1) being overworked, 2) protecting your body, or 3) both 1 and 2. (There are some neurological causes as well, but that is for another day also.) With chronic tightness, you can stretch all day, every day, and it still will not resolve your tightness.
So, what do you need to do instead? Probably everything that you are not doing – joint mobility, stabilize the area, and fix your faulty movement patterns.
If you have a joint in your body that is not moving well, the muscles are required to work harder to create that motion. Eventually, the muscles become overworked and tighten up…or worse.
Some great examples are what can happen when you lack ankle mobility or upper back mobility, both of which are frequently stiff in many people. When you lack mobility in the ankle, the lower leg muscles work harder. When you lack mobility in the upper back, the shoulder and lower back get overworked. You can stretch your calves, smash your shoulder muscles, and do all the rolling you want for your low back. Unless you get the areas of the body moving better, the tightness you feel is not going to go away.
Our joints are surrounded by small muscles whose job it is to stabilize the area. Many times, because people do not know how to train them properly, the stabilizer muscles are weak. When they fatigue and can no longer do their job, the larger overlying muscles tighten up in a way to protect and stabilize your body. This is a common issue when we see chronic low back, hamstring, and calf tightness. Unless you take time to figure out what muscles are weak and then take time to strengthen them properly, your tightness will continue to be present, regardless of how much you stretch.
Something else to mention with this also ties into the joint mobility aspect. Your body has learned that it is normal to be in the position of tightness or stiffness that it is in. When you stretch, you loosen things up, but the body does not know how to function like that. So, it tightens back up. If you do stretch, it is necessary to teach the body how to use and stabilize those new positions immediately after. If you do not teach the body how to use and control the new motion, it will go right back to what it knows, which is the shortened position you started with.
Improper movement patterns from any cause – habits over the years, postures you maintain during the day, and compensations from previous injuries to name a few – can create tightness in the body.
A great example of this is the quads. Moving in quad dominant patterns (which the majority of people do) when you lift, run, or perform your day-to-day tasks will eventually catch up to you and result it tightness in the quads and eventually create pain in the knees. You can do all the stretching, rolling, massage, etc. that you want, but unless you fix how your body is moving, you are going to continue to experiences the tightness.
Are you ready to put an end to the constant tightness you are feeling? It is time to figure out why it is there and fix it. Want some help with this? Schedule a Free Discovery Session with Brianne to figure out what your plan of attack is.
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