Muscle Tightness – Slacking Off

Feeling tight or stiff is a fairly common problem.  We recently discussed how regularly “popping” your joints may not be the best idea for this, and how stretching doesn’t always address the issue reliably either.  With both solutions, people are aiming to try to take their joint or muscle through full range of motion to reduce the feeling of stiffness/tightness.  As mentioned in the other articles, this works for some people, but for many people this ends up being a temporary fix for muscel tightness.  

Consider that muscles are not a passive structure in that they move and respond to different stimulants.  Think about getting your reflexes tested. When you go to a doctor’s office and they use the small rubber hammer on your knee, your leg should respond with a small kick.  With this test, there are receptors in your tendon that pick up on a sudden stretch and cause your muscles to get tighter to protect the tendon and muscle from harm.  

As a different example, consider the paper finger trap (pictured here).  If you’ve ever had the experience with one of these, you’ll know that to get out you can’t pull harder because you’ll just tighten the grip on your finger.  Instead, you need to provide slack by pushing your fingers together to get out of the trap.  

Ok, the finger trap might be a little out there, but the concept carries over to the body.  If a muscle that already feels tight is being pulled, the brain might decide to make that muscle even more tense.  For some people, the answer might be to do the opposite – slack the muscle and let it relax a little.  

For your hamstrings (back of the thighs), kneel down or sit with your heels near your buttocks.  For the upper back, lie on your back with a rolled up towel along the spine and allow the shoulder blades to pinch the towel.  Find an area that feels tight and let it relax for a couple minutes. If you aren’t sure how to do this with the area you’re having trouble with, ask a physical therapist, personal trainer, or chiropractor for help for your muscle tightness.
Have questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to discover your future without limits.  

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.

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