Some of us have those nagging muscles that just always feel tight. Attempt after attempt all that happens is some temporary relief. You stretch and you stretch but all you get is relief for a few minutes. So what can you do to achieve that permanent solution and what are the reasons you are still feeling tightness?
STRESS. This is probably the biggest reason for tightness. Our body loves to be in a steady and calm state, whenever a stimulus pushes our emotions or mental state into a state of chaos our body switches into “protect mode”. This can expose itself as the feeling of tightness across the neck, shoulders, back and can quickly deteriorate into pain. Meditation, mindfullness or just distracting yourself with something fun can be a quick way to address that tightness.
OVERSTRETCHING. Stretching acts as a stimulus on the muscle, pulling on the microfibres within the muscle belly to adapt to the demands. In the search for more relief however you can stretch too much. Overloading the muscle and not allowing it time to adapt or relax! If you are stretching for more than 15 minutes a day you may need to scale back how much stretching you are doing even if it is a bit counterintuitive!
VARIABILITY. Our bodies are made to move. If you sit in front of a computer at work for hours on end you’ll feel tight. If you stay in any one position for too long you will feel tight. One adage that I like to live by is that your next posture is your best posture. It really just comes down to that our bodies like to move, so if you are feeling tight, get up and move more!
PERCEPTION. Our brain is a very interesting organ. It has so much power of imagination and if we believe that tight muscles are inherently bad for us or will lead to injury, it will, and we can notice a compounding effect of tightness. What I mean is that if you are fearful that tight traps are going to lead to injury, you begin to change how you move or avoid movement all together and you spiral down the tightness/sedentary spiral until your fears are eventually realized.
STRENGTH. Somewhat counterintuitively, if a muscle is feeling tight it can be your body telling you that you need to develop more strength in that region. As mentioned above, stretching is a stimulus, and in fact strength based exercises are the same stimulus! Try loading the muscle with a bit of a stronger stimulus and then allow it recover (which is basic training principles)! You may notice an increase in your strength, decrease in tightness, and experience all the other benefits of strength training!
If you are concerned about your tightness or have any questions about this article don’t hesitate to come on in and chat with one of our therapists! We are always happy to help!