MUSCLE TIGHTNESS AND STRETCHING
When addressing the perception of tightness, it is important to consider that simply providing stretches may not always be effective. Through my research, I have discovered that the sensation of tightness in a muscle is often not primarily caused by the muscle itself. Instead, it is frequently a result of the central nervous system's interpretation of signals from the periphery. This perception of tightness can stem from various factors such as muscle weakness, reduced neural mobility, or protective guarding due to perceived threats like joint hypermobility or injury.
To alleviate this perceived tightness, it is crucial to reduce the perceived threat or strengthen the affected tissues. One effective approach I have found is to engage in general strengthening exercises targeting the affected area. By strengthening the muscles and surrounding structures, the perceived tightness can be significantly reduced.
Additionally, I have observed positive outcomes by incorporating simple pain-free motions that naturally move the affected area. This approach is particularly beneficial for addressing tightness in the trapezius muscles. Performing shrugging motions with or without weights, while avoiding pain-inducing movements, has proven to be more effective than solely relying on stretching.
I do not suggest excluding stretching altogether when addressing tightness, but it is essential to avoid pushing the body to the point of pain or forcibly exceeding the end range of motion. Aggressive stretching may initially provide a sense of relief, but it can lead to increased discomfort afterward. Instead, focus on stretching up to the first resistance barrier and allowing the stretch to occur naturally. Emphasizing motions and incorporating strengthening exercises will be more beneficial in the long run.
We have been in the health and fitness business for many decades now.
These are some of the things we wished we knew years ago.