If you’re a victim to perpetual muscle tightness, you’re in the right place! Here are my top tips to recognise muscle tightness, combat it, and prevent it from returning! But first we need a really quick review of the physiology to understand what we’re dealing with!
What does it mean to have tight muscles?
“Tight” muscles are something we talk about in the manual therapy game a lot – but what does it actually mean? It doesn’t necessarily mean your muscles are “too short” for your body (they can be long and taught!) or “have knots” (this is fibrotic muscle!) – it’s more of a descriptor of muscle quality.
To have “tight muscles” is a commonly misinterpreted code used by therapists to communicate to patients that they have poor muscle quality, reduced circulation, or reduced muscle elasticity.
How to spot them!
- You don’t recover quickly from exercise; you’re very familiar with DOMS.
- You often get cramp.
- You feel inflexible, and struggle to do things like getting your socks on!
- Your muscles are tender to press.
- You often get aches and pains – shoulders, lower back, and in the bottom are common sites.
So what can you do?
Make friends with a foam roller, a couple of times a week is enough. Foam rolling is described by many as a deliciously painful way to torture yourself… Your osteopath or sports masseuse might put it another way – “It’s great for your circulation! It’s great to ease muscle soreness after exercise! It promotes muscle repair!” Be brave and persevere –it does get easier as you get used to it.
Epsom salts are an effective home remedy. A hot bath, 2 kilograms of magnesium sulphate and a 20 minute soak can put tender muscles on hold after exercise.
Move often, don’t leave yourself to stiffen up. Dynamic stretching may be more effective in staving off muscle soreness than static stretches that can put too much stress on brittle, inelastic muscle fibres.
Regular treatment with your osteopath or sports therapist is obviously the best way to keep your muscles in tip-top condition! A combination of deep effective soft tissue massage, muscle energy stretching techniques, a personalised stretching plan (and addressing underlying biomechanical factors that cause the muscle tightness to begin with!) is the perfect combination!