Many people have come to us about their back, neck, knees or wherever else feeling tight or stiff. And when something feels tight, our first instinct is to stretch it out. Sure, stretching out your tight muscles might feel great and even relieve your symptoms temporarily, but the symptoms come back no matter how much you stretch. Why doesn’t stretching relieve tightness? Because you weren’t tight in the first place.
Relieve muscle tightness
Flexible and even hypermobile people can experience ‘tightness’ in their muscles. And yet, these people are still able to stretch their limbs despite being ‘tight’. This indicates that their muscles were not actually tight at all. So, what causes us to feel tight?
A chemical interacts with the nerve synapse that muscles are connected to, which causes muscles to switch ‘on’ or ‘off’. The stronger this interaction is, the more the muscles will contract. Dynamic muscles, like the biceps, will only generate power briefly. Then there are other muscles, known as the postural muscles, that are permanently contracted. This allows the body to hold different positions. If the dynamic muscles are switched ‘on’ for too long, they can become fatigued. Stretching provides relief as it gives the muscles a break, but it won’t prevent the symptoms from returning.
How do you relieve tight muscles?
Let’s say your neck and upper back feels sore after using a mouse for hours at a time. Using a mouse isn’t hard, but prolonged use might fatigue the muscles, resulting in a tight feeling. However, if you strengthen the muscles being used, you’ll find that your muscles are slower to tire. This is because you will have greater strength and endurance, preventing the muscles from being overworked.
Strength is important to build, even if you aren’t a professional athlete. Strength training will help you comfortably meet the demands of your daily life. If you suffer from the symptoms discussed, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our physiotherapists can help you strengthen your muscles so you can keep up with your everyday life, pain-free.