Why do I always feel tight in my muscles?
This is a question I often get asked in the clinic. The simple answer, to this question, is that you do not need to have the sensation of muscle tightness in your body, however this requires a clear understanding of how the muscles in the body work to allow you to change your habits and therefore change the way you feel.
There are three types of muscles in the body that we need to consider;
Global mobilisers, these are the big guys, they do the major work adding power, strength and speed to the body. The muscles you will use in the gym, on long runs or riding the bike. They work predominantly in a phasic on-off type of pattern.
Global stabilisers, these add control to your movement patterns, helping to produce a more efficient pattern of movement. Generally they control rotation of the body and help the more superficial mobilisers do their job well. They work more predominantly in a tonic holding method, or slow twitch type function.
Local stabilisers, these are the deepest muscles in the body generally. They add the initial layer of control to movement, tensioning to prevent translation, or sliding, across joints before movement occurs. They work therefore on timing not strength, the good news being these guys always work however if the timing is out then problems can occur.
It is the interaction of the global mobilisers and global stabilisers that is of most interest to why your body will feel tight no matter how much stretching or rolling you do. Due to our habits, how we sit, how we walk and how we move, the global stabiliser can become inefficient. They essentially fail to complete the tasks asked of them effectively. The wonderful thing about the human body is that it is always prepared to adapt and help, and this is where the global mobilisers come in. The global mobilisers tend to up-regulate and help their troubled mates, the global stabilisers, even though this is not there job and they are not particularly good at doing this task.
What happens next is the key to why you are tight. The muscle adapts to the new role and physiologically changes how it functions, to become more tonic in nature, helping to control movement rotation, generally via bracing or locking down the normal free flowing movement of the joint. Hence you obtain tight, overworked and underpaid mobilisers that are generally unhappy with the world, so you roll them, stretch them to help return normal movement again.
I hope you can see that there is a step that is missing here. If you fail to return the global stabilisers to their normal function, with good through range control, then your body will continually go back to the only strategy it has available to cope. Tightening up those big mobilisers again! To maximise your training, your movement and your freedom of movement you need to add in some retraining of the global stabilisers, and give your body back the control it craves. This is the first step to obtaining freedom from tight muscles.
One of our clients explains how a specific retraining programme has changed her life.
‘The Performance Matrix, an individualised programme, which has targeted my weak areas in order that I can attain new goals: cycling, yoga and 13 hour shifts on my feet!!! My long term goal is to get back skiing which I can now see is a possibility. And the best bit – I no longer have to spend 30 minutes stretching each day to relieve my pain.’ – Rachel
Movement health is the phrase of the moment, and with The Performance Matrix (TPM) you have the ability to find and fix these problems via a specific movement screen and retraining programme. Addressing your movement control will give you freedom of movement, allow you to change the way you train and , if desired, improve your sporting performance.