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Tight muscles - Stretching?
09/05/2011 - "Tight muscles - Stretching?" by Olly
posted in Flexibility

While stretching is important, it may be futile if your posture is poor or if key supporting muscles are weak. There will be a reason a particular muscle becomes tight. Stretching, massage and hands on therapy are all good ways to reduce muscular tension. Often however, without correcting the underlying reason the muscle became tight, the muscle will continue to tighten.

Poor posture is a key reason a muscle will tighten up. Our body must support itself against gravity all day. In a perfect world, our upright posture loads each of our joints vertically. In this position, our bones, ligaments and joints are all designed to distribute our weight evenly and with little effort from key postural muscles. While we can’t maintain this passive vertical posture all day, sustained deviations from this ideal position will place extra demands on muscles.

Try holding your arms out in front of you for a few seconds and you will feel muscles at the back of your legs, back and neck muscles tighten so as to prevent yourself tipping forward with the weight of your arms. Over a whole day, even a small deviation in posture will lead to the same affect. For example, if your head is positioned slightly ahead of your shoulders, its weight will cause your body to tip forward. The same muscles as in the exercise above, the calves, hamstrings, your lower back and your neck muscles will all have to work harder than normal to prevent your body tipping forward with the weight of your head.

While stretching may reduce tension in these muscles, unless you reduce the stress to the muscles and adopt an improved posture, the muscles are likely to become tight again.

There can be a number of different reasons a muscle may become tight. Another cause is when a muscle is weak or not working correctly. In this situation, other muscles have to ‘take over’ and help out. Often this means that these supporting muscles have to perform roles, which they are not designed to perform. The result is that they can become tight or they may pull that joint out of position slightly, which in turn places a stress on another muscle…this creates a viscous cycle where muscles work out of position and stress other areas which cause muscles to work out of position and stress other areas…

If you would like any advice on how you can improve your posture or strengthen key muscles, which will reduce the stress on an area, which continually tightens up, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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