Here at the Advanced Wellness Centre in Carytown/Richmond, we see a lot of patients and clients who mention a feeling of “tightness.” If we feel tight, we should stretch, right? The answer: it depends.
Tightness is a perception of the brain, but there may be a number of reasons for it. Perhaps the nervous system is trying to draw attention to an area in need of joint mobilization, which is a slightly different input than a stretch. Perhaps the area lacks stability and stretching could make it less stable, since stretching decreases muscle activity in the given muscle. Or a muscle could be stretched long (in essence, hanging on for dear life) and stretching it longer could make it feel tighter over the long-term.
At AWC, we conduct a movement assessment on our clients and patients before we begin an exercise or stretching program. Limitations in movement can reveal which areas of the body might need stretching/mobilization to improve muscle relationships around a given joint, as well as which areas might need to be stabilized with specific exercises (and may not benefit as much from stretching).
In other words, we often need an extra set of eyes to figure out what is needed.
So, before you spend half your day stretching a muscle that feels tight, remember that “tight” does not necessarily mean “in need of further lengthening.” Sometimes a strengthening exercise on the tight muscle can resolve the tightness!
To schedule a time for your personal movement assessment, and to check out our more clinical approach to massage, exercise, and even nutrition today, schedule here.