3 Contributing Factors to Muscle Tightness
Muscle tightness can feel like a stiff or tense sensation in the muscle which may cause discomfort, pain and limit movement.
There are a few contributing factors including fatigue, stretching technique and inherent flexibility which have a noticeable impact on how we experience and recover from muscle tightness. Understanding how these affect our bodies and developing an appropriate exercise recovery program can help relieve associated pain and discomfort.
Muscle tightness, specially after exercise, is usually a consequence of fatigue. Weak muscles fatigue quicker than strong muscles and will feel tight or sore for 2-3 days following (what you might feel) is only moderate activity.
After an injury we will have a significant loss of power that usually takes 3+ months of graded strengthening exercises. Improvement in the first 6 weeks is largely a result neurological changes (i.e. using what we've got more efficiently).
Biological changes (hypertrophy and hyperplasia) begin after several weeks of strengthening and may take 3-6 months to restore our pre-injury power and strength endurance.
We receive improved recovery from an active cool-down after exercise (or even labouring in the backyard). Stretching after exercise is valuable to help you recover and increase flexibility.
However, our stretching technique might be inappropriate and may not be providing the maximum benefit.
Hamstring stretches are one example. Often people will touch their toes with their leg straightened as a way of stretching their hamstring. However, bringing your shoulder to your knee with your knee bent to 90° then gradually straightening is a far more effective hamstring muscle stretch.
Read More: Effective Stretches for Tight Hamstrings
We tend to be generally flexible or inflexible largely as a result of our genetic make-up. You might have been unlucky in your choice of parents (but we can all improve on what we've got!).
Don't envy hypermobile people too much as they are more prone to ligament sprains and joint instability as a result.
Everything in moderation is definitely best.
Physiotherapy is a valuable tool in the treatment and prevention of muscle tightness. Using a graded strengthening program which includes proper stretching techniques can help relieve muscle tightness caused by injury or weakness.