Tight muscles can be frustrating, painful and as a result limit movement. As we age, we find it hard to do the simplest of chores that we enjoyed during our youthful days. For some of us, life’s simplest of pleasures like tieing our shoelaces, bending, scratching our own backs and a bunch of other activities can’t be done without help. It is mainly brought about by a decline in human performance and flexibility. Muscle tightness can be due to prolonged periods of inactivity, during exercise or after exercise.
PROLONGED PERIODS OF INACTIVITY
If you sit at a desk for long, the hips stay in a bent(flexed) position. Muscles on the front of the hips(hip flexors) remain in a shortened position and the muscles at the back of the hips(glutes) and upper back muscles stay in a lengthened position. The shortened muscles become tight while the lengthened muscles weaken causing muscle imbalance.
HOW TO SOLVE IT!
- Maintain proper posture while seated
- Strengthen the glutes and hamstrings (lengthened weak muscles)
- Stretch the tightened muscles (chest/hipflexors).
When muscles contract, the muscle fibers shorten, increasing tension in the muscles. When the contraction is completed muscle fibers lengthen and decrease tension. During or after your weight training, running or swimming you may experience cramps. Cramps occur when muscle fibers remain shortened and are unable to lengthen due to fatigue, improper hydration and nutrition. Muscles will cramp when fatigued or depleted of Sodium and Potassium and a soft drink rich in electrolytes helps restore the deficit.
Pain and stiffness in the muscles may be experienced 24-72 hours post-exercise as a result of small ruptures within the muscles especially if, we have been inactive and we decide that we are fit enough to sign up for a hike, marathon or gym circuit class.
We should always progress gradually into a program. Increased blood flow to the sore area helps and we are encouraged to do some moderate-intensity workouts like walking, dancing or swimming. A massage may also help alleviate the soreness.
- Proper exercise, stretching, nutrition strategies can help prevent and correct muscle tightness
- Proper posture, choice of exercise, and stretches will prevent tightness due to decreased range of motion
- Proper exercise intensity, pre, during and post-exercise, hydration, and nutrition can help prevent cramps
- Appropriate exercise progression and static stretches after exercise will help prevent soreness after exercise and maintain range of motion.