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Why are my muscles tight?

This week's question

Why are my muscles so tight?

My answer - Whenever I asked a question to one of my PT school professors, they would always respond with "it depends" which drove me absolutely bonkers. But here I am, telling you, it depends.

Muscle tightness can be from a lot of different causes some of which I will outline below. However, I can say that in my experience there is always some sort of underlying cause.

1. You are doing too much without recovering - whenever we work out, the activity of contracting our muscles can lead to some tightness that lasts anywhere from several hours to several days depending on the individual and the intensity of the workout. If we compound this by performing more and more activities without recovering, this tightness can be uncomfortable and longer lasting. Stretching and foam rolling, as well as sauna, hot tub, etc can all aid in recovery, along with the number one factor - SLEEP

2. You are not hydrated - This is a super common one, and even at 2% of dehydration, our muscles can begin to respond poorly. Drink your water, add electrolytes as needed.

3. You have some joint instability - whether it is localized or throughout your body, when joints are unstable, muscles can tighten to try to protect the area. Stabilizing the joint by improving motor control in the area can help.

4. You have too much nerve input to the area - whether this is in a traditional sense of a "pinched nerve" or just an increased pain signal, or even stress, when nerves send too many singals into the muscle, it tends to tighten up in response to all of the incoming messages. Decrease and sort out the messages, and muscle tightness should go away.

In summary, if you only stretch and massage your muscle tightness and it keeps coming back, you may need to look further for the root cause of the tightness. Sometimes it is easy to find, sometimes it can be hard but it will be worth it if the muscle tightness goes away for good!

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