When someone says, “My muscles feel tight.” We all know the feeling, the uncomfortableness. But why do muscles feel “tight?” Are they actually tighter? What is causing this sensation?
First things first, let’s look at what “tightness” actually means -- then we’ll talk about how to alleviate the discomfort of that feeling.
What is Muscle Tightness?
We all have our own idea of what muscle tightness feels like, but it can be used to describe a variety of ailments. Tightness is often used to describe:
- Reduced range of motion
- Area never feels relaxed
- Movement is more effort than normal
- Mild discomfort that isn’t quite pain
Any of these sensations can be described as “muscle tightness.” In short though, most muscle tightness comes down to reduced blood flow. When we have actually pain, it’s usually warning to NOT move that body part. But when we are just experiencing uncomfortable tightness, it’s the body’s way of saying it needs more blood flow -- through movement, stretching, or massage.
How Can I Cure Muscle Tightness?
Muscle tightness can be caused by a variety of factors -- decreased movement, repetitive motion, or side effects from injury or illness. Think about when you emerge from a long car ride -- your body is stiff, muscles are tight, and you’re uncomfortable. You will instinctively stretch to relax muscles and relieve stiffness. You are instinctively increasing the blood flow to the muscles that were deprived of it during the car ride.
When stretching or moving doesn’t work, what can you do to relieve muscle tightness? The solution is still to increase blood flow to the area -- but you made need some outside help.
One of the main benefits of massage is that it increases blood flow to the muscles. Working with a licensed massage therapist to address muscle tightness is one of the most effective treatments.
Massage also relaxes the body and mind -- which can turn off the body’s defense mechanism of creating uncomfortable tightness.
Pump iron. Get pumped up. Pump it up. These aren’t just things people say about exercise -- the phrases come from the fact that your heart is pumping more when you’re moving. Incorporating cardio exercise and strength training will not only make you stronger and healthier -- it will increase blood flow to the muscles.
Tightness can sometimes be a body’s response to feeling weak, so strengthening the muscles that are tight -- although it may seem counterproductive -- can actually relieve muscle tension in the long run.
Experience muscle tightness? I want to help! Contact me today to see how we can start you on path of recovery with massage.