Sprains And Strains – Sprains and strains also affect the muscles and ligaments. Strains occur when the back muscle fibers stretch and tear. Sprains, on the other hand, occur when the ligaments twist, stretch or tear. Spraining or straining your back muscles result in stiffness and causes pain.
- 1 Can tense muscles cause back pain?
- 2 What happens if you tense a muscle too hard?
- 3 Why do weak muscles cause back pain?
- 4 What happens when you stretch tight muscles?
- 5 Should I stretch my back if it hurts?
- 6 What causes extremely tight back muscles?
- 7 Is it good to stretch a tight back?
- 8 Are muscles tight because they are weak?
- 9 Are tight muscles weak muscles?
- 10 Does exercise help muscle tightness?
- 11 How do you know if back pain is internal or muscular?
Can tight muscles cause severe back pain?
Tight hip flexors – The iliopsoas muscle in your hip allows you to lift your thigh and bring it close to your body. This action is called flexion of the hip. Tightness in the iliopsoas muscle can create stiffness within the segments of your spine. In severe iliopsoas tightness, spinal instability may occur.
It is also possible for the surrounding spinal tissues to get inflamed and irritated, generating pain.2 Avrahami D, Potvin JR. The clinical and biomechanical effects of fascial-muscular lengthening therapy on tight hip flexor patients with and without low back pain. J Can Chiropr Assoc.2014;58(4):444–455.
See Back Muscles and Low Back Pain Pressure on the spine can be relieved by stretches that help in lengthening the hip flexors.
Can tense muscles cause back pain?
Anxiety or Injury? – It can be difficult to differentiate the causes of back discomfort. Many doctors believe that anxiety is not a direct cause of back issues, but rather that anxiety may lead to behaviors and conditions that contribute to back pain.
How do tight muscles cause pain?
Let’s face it. Stress can hurt. A sudden onset or prolonged periods of stress can cause muscle tension and pain, or other associated pain such as headaches brought on by muscle tension in the nearby areas of the shoulders, neck and head. But why does stress cause muscle pain and tension and what can you do about it? “When stress levels are high, our brain sends a signal to the nerves to go into ‘protection mode,’ and our nerves activate our muscles to tighten and increase their tone,” says David Munson, a rehabilitation therapist with TriHealth Corporate Health, who is board certified in professional ergonomics.
This can cause pain because when muscles are tense, the circulation is decreased, causing a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. It’s similar to feeling soreness the day after strenuous exercise such as weightlifting.” David also points out that in addition to emotional stress, the physical stress brought on in many work environments by maintaining a prolonged position without movement, by poor posture or by singular repetitive movements can cause similar problems.
So what can you do to reduce stress-related pain and tension? “The first thing to remember is that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have overly tight muscles which require aggressive stretching,” David says. “But it is a sign that you would benefit from changing your activities to decrease the threat on the nervous system, and there are some easy ways to help your body deal with the impact of stress.”
Can a tight back cause back pain?
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We do the research so you can find trusted products for your health and wellness. Certain exercises and yoga poses may help tight back muscles by increasing flexibility and strength. Whether your lower back feels tight often or occasionally, it’s important to listen to your body and take steps to loosen tension.
- A tight lower back can worsen and lead to more serious problems.
- It can also affect your daily movements such as reaching down to pick up something from the floor.
- Tightness in your lower back may be accompanied by pain, spasms, and cramping.
- The pain often feels like a constant, dull ache, and your back may feel stiff, tense, and contracted.
You may also feel tightness in your pelvis, hips, and legs. A tight lower back that’s caused by an over-strenuous workout or lifting something heavy will usually be felt within a few hours. It’s normal to feel some tightness or soreness after working out, but it will usually subside within a few days.
- Tightness may be more likely if you’re doing a workout that you don’t normally do, or if you’re not in the best shape.
- As long as it peaks and subsides within a reasonable time, it shouldn’t be cause for concern.
- There are lots of simple stretches and exercises you can do to improve flexibility and strength in your lower back.
Focus on lengthening and extending the spine. This helps to relieve compression in the lower back. Stretching the hamstrings is also beneficial. In addition, you should choose exercises that focus on working the hips, core, and gluteal (buttock) muscles.
- Doing daily activities such as walking, swimming, or yoga is recommended.
- Put forth dedicated effort into being active as often as possible.
- Consistently doing exercises and activities to loosen up your lower back will usually yield positive results within a few weeks.
- Here are nine exercises you can add to your daily routine to help strengthen your lower back and improve flexibility.
This exercise increases flexibility, relieves tension, and helps to loosen the lower back and hip muscles. You can also engage your core muscles if comfortable. Muscles used:
- rectus abdominis (abdominal muscles)
- erector spinae (muscles that run the length of the back)
- pelvic muscles
- gluteal muscles
Active Body. Creative Mind.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips and your hands on your hips.
- Start by gently moving your hips from side to side.
- Then slowly rotate your hips in one direction, making big circles.
- Do at least 10 circles.
- Repeat in the opposite direction.
This is an accessible exercise that relieves tension and tightness in the lower back. It also stretches your hips. Muscles used:
- erector spinae
- sacral muscles (muscles of the part of the spinal column connected to the pelvis)
- pelvic muscles
Active Body. Creative Mind.
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, and extend your arms out to the side so they’re perpendicular to your torso. Your feet can be a little wider than your hips.
- Exhale as you slowly drop your knees down to the right and turn to look to the left.
- Inhale return to the starting position.
- Continue this movement for 1 minute, alternating between the left and right sides.
This stretch helps to loosen lower back muscles and increase flexibility while stretching and stabilizing the pelvis. Muscles used:
- gluteus maximus
- pelvic muscles
- spinal extensors
Active Body. Creative Mind.
- Lie on your back with both legs extended.
- Draw your right knee to your chest with your fingers interlaced around your shin.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds, and then release your leg.
- Repeat this stretch 5 times on both legs.
- Then draw both knees into your chest and hold your hands, arms, or elbows.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.
This stretch relaxes the lower back and stretches the hamstrings. It also helps to align the spine. Muscles used:
- gluteus maximus
- rectus abdominis
- erector spinae
Active Body. Creative Mind.
- Lie on your back with both legs extended.
- Lift your right leg up so it’s as straight as possible, keeping a slight bend in the knee. You can bend your left knee and press into your foot for support.
- Interlace your fingers to hold your leg behind your thigh, or use a strap or towel around the top of your foot.
- Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the left side.
- Do 2 to 3 times on each side.
This exercise strengthens your lower back and abdominal muscles. It also increases flexibility. Muscles used:
- rectus abdominis
- sacral muscles
- gluteus maximus
Active Body. Creative Mind.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent. While relaxed, your spine will have a slight curve so the base of your spine isn’t touching the floor.
- Engage your core muscles so the base of your spine presses into the floor.
- Hold for 5 seconds and then relax.
- Repeat 3 times, gradually increasing to 10 repetitions.
This yoga pose increases flexibility of the spine and provides a nice stretch for your hips and abdomen. Pay attention to your core muscles as you engage and release them throughout the movement. If you’re feeling especially stiff or sore, you can do the movement super slowly and gently. Muscles used:
- erector spinae
- rectus abdominis
- gluteus maximus
Active Body. Creative Mind.
- Come into the tabletop position with your weight balanced evenly between all four points.
- Inhale as look up and drop your belly toward the floor.
- Exhale as you arch your back toward the ceiling.
- Continue this movement for at least 1 minute.
This gentle resting yoga pose takes pressure off the lower back and relieves pain. It helps to lengthen, stretch, and align the spine. Muscles used:
- gluteus maximus
- posterior muscles
- spinal extensors
Active Body. Creative Mind.
- From a kneeling position, sit back on your heels with your knees together or slightly apart. You may place a bolster or pillow under your thighs, chest, or forehead.
- Hinge at the hips to fold forward, extending your arms in front of you, or resting them next to your body.
- Allow your body to fall heavy as you completely relax, letting go of tightness.
- Hold this pose for 1 minute.
This yoga pose allows you to relax your lower back and pelvis. It provides an excellent stretch for your hamstrings and helps relieve stress and tension. Muscles used:
- pelvic muscles
- lower back
- back of your neck
Active Body. Creative Mind.
- Come into a seated position with the right side of your body against a wall.
- Lie onto your back and swing your legs up along the wall. You may place a cushion under your hips or move your hips a few inches from the wall.
- Relax your arms in any comfortable position.
- Focus on relaxing the lower back and releasing tension.
- Stay in this pose for up to 2 minutes.
Complete your stretching routine with a few minutes of relaxation before going about your day. This gives your muscles a chance to fully relax. Focus on releasing any remaining tension and tightness in the body. Active Body. Creative Mind.
- Lie on your back with your arms next to your body and your palms facing up.
- Bring your feet a little wider than your hips and allow your toes to splay out to the side.
- Breathe deeply and allow your body to soften.
- Stay in this position for up to 20 minutes.
Sports injuries, overtraining, and accidents can cause your back to feel tight. Even everyday activities such as sitting can cause tightness. Often you develop tightness in the lower back to compensate for an issue in another part of the body. Tight hamstrings and gluteus muscles can also contribute to this tightness.
- sprains and strains
- sedentary lifestyle
- prolonged periods of sitting
- ruptured disks
- invertebrate disk degeneration
- stiff or irritated joints
- pinched nerves
- muscular dysfunction
- psychological stress
- disease of the internal organs
- age-related changes of the spine
You may wish to incorporate one or more additional treatments into your daily exercise routine. You can use heat or ice therapy on your own on a daily basis. Consider going for a therapeutic massage or practice self-massage at home using a foam roller,
- Shop foam rollers online.
- You may also consider alternative treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic, or Rolfing.
- Consider physical therapy if lower back tightness has persisted for more than two weeks.
- Try a few approaches and see what brings you the best results.
- You’ll typically see improvements within two to six weeks of doing daily exercises.
You should see a doctor if:
- your pain doesn’t improve within a few weeks
- you have intense pain while doing the exercises
- the pain spreads to your legs
Also see a doctor if you experience any numbness, swelling, or severe pain. Your doctor can help to determine if any pain or tightness is being caused by an underlying condition. There are many lifestyle changes you can practice to help prevent lower back pain. Here are a few guidelines and tips:
- Adopt a balanced, healthy diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Stay active and exercise often.
- Warm up and stretch before exercise.
- Get up and move around for at least 5 minutes for each hour that you’re seated.
- When sitting, use a back support at the curve of your back.
- When sitting, keep your legs uncrossed and your ankles directly under your knees.
- Do simple leg exercises a few times per day if you’re on bed rest.
- Practice good posture.
- Wear comfortable, supportive shoes.
- Sleep on a firm mattress.
- Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects and use correct form if you must lift something.
- Quit smoking to improve blood flow and to increase the oxygen and nutrients to your spinal tissues.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid alcohol.
Set up your workstation so that it’s ergonomically correct. You want to have the option to sit, stand, and perform some gentle stretching while working. Set up a yoga mat or some cushions by your workstation. You may be more apt to do some gentle stretching or drop into a few yoga poses with the appropriate setup nearby.
What problems can tight muscles cause?
Tight and rigid muscles are often the result of injury. In some cases, muscle tightness and rigidity may come with other symptoms, such as muscle pain, muscle spasms, or reduced mobility. Mild muscle tightness and rigidity is often benign and treatable.
But muscle tightness and rigidity that is severe, chronic, or comes on very suddenly can signal a serious underlying health condition. This article outlines some common causes of tight, rigid muscles, along with their associated treatments. We also provide information on how to help prevent muscular symptoms, where possible.
Sprains and strains are injuries to soft tissue. A sprain affects a ligament, while a strain affects a muscle or tendon. Ligaments are connective tissues that attach bones to other bones, while tendons are connective tissues that attach muscles to bones.
sudden pain or tendernessswellingrednessmuscle stiffnessdifficulty moving the affected area
In most cases, sprain and strain injuries heal on their own. A person can also try the following home remedies to assist their recovery:
Rest: Rest the affected area to promote healing and help prevent further injury. Ice: Apply a cold compress to the affected area to reduce pain and inflammation. Compression: Apply a compression bandage to reduce swelling. Elevation: Elevate the affected limb to reduce swelling and inflammation. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications: Take acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication to alleviate pain.
Exercise-related muscle stiffness can occur following excessive exercise or a sudden change to a person’s exercise routine. Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is one of the most common causes of exercise-related injuries. With DOMS, microscopic tears develop within overexerted muscles, causing the muscles to feel sore and rigid the following day.
massage applying ice packselevating the affected limbtaking an OTC pain reliever
A sedentary lifestyle can weaken the muscles, making them vulnerable to injury. Muscle tightness and rigidity can develop due to a lack of exercise or as a result of sitting for prolonged periods at work or at home. A sedentary lifestyle might be the culprit if the pain is worse after long periods of sitting, if it appears gradually and gets worse over time, or if it reduces after periods of activity.
In order to ease muscular problems, a person should try taking frequent stretching breaks and committing to more regular exercise. A long sedentary period may increase the risk of injuries from exercise, so a person should gradually build up the intensity and frequency of their exercise. Dehydration deprives the body of the fluids and electrolytes it needs to function well.
This can cause muscle cramps along with other symptoms, such as :
difficulty thinking clearlychanges in mood constipation elevated body temperature
Drinking more water can help to both prevent and treat dehydration. An electrolyte solution may be particularly beneficial for helping to relieve dehydration-induced muscle spasms. Dehydration can also occur as a result of excessive vomiting or diarrhea,
What are the negative effects of tight muscles?
How Muscle Tension Affects The Body Muscle tension occurs when one more or muscles in the body remains contracted for a prolonged length of time. Nearly everyone will experience this condition at some point in their life, some more frequently than others. While muscle tension may seem harmless enough, it can actually trigger a variety of adverse symptoms and side effects.
Heart Disease Chronic muscle tension may increase your risk of heart disease. When the muscles remain in a constant state of tension, blood pressure rises, placing additional stress on arteries, blood vessels and organs. Subsequently, this can lead to stroke or other serious heart disease. And with heart disease being the number one cause of death among both men and women in the US*, muscle tension is a symptom that shouldn’t be ignored.
Digestive Problems Another way in which muscle tension affects the body involves the digestive system. When muscles become tense, it can press against the intestines and stomach, restricting bowel movements. This is why many people who experience chronic muscle tension also report indigestion and constipation.HeadachesThere’s some belief that muscle tension is linked to headaches and migraines.
This makes sense considering the fact that tense muscles promotes high blood pressure, which subsequently affects the nervous system. Back Pain You might be surprised to learn that muscle tension can even lead to back pain if left unchecked. We’ve talked about this before on our blog, but it’s worth mentioning again that back pain is the single leading cause of disability, affecting more than 30 million Americans at any given time.
Muscle tension is believed to play a role in back pain, as the tense muscles press against the vertebrae and supporting structures. Find Relief With Massage Therapy The good news is that you can relieve muscle tension through massage therapy. A quick 30-60 minute session can make a world of difference in health.
A professional massage therapist will use a variety of manipulation techniques to soothe your muscles, releasing any built-up tension within. Many people report a positive improvement in their muscle tension after just a single massage session. And if you return for multiple sessions, you’ll experience an even greater level of relief.
In addition to massage therapy, you should also consider stress-reducing techniques. Psychological stress is one of the largest risk factors of muscle tension. People who are stressed on a regular basis are more likely to experience muscle tension. Some people assume that stress is only in mind, but the fact of that matter is that it can cause physical symptoms to manifest as well, including muscle tension.
What happens if you tense a muscle too hard?
Symptoms – Symptoms of muscle strain include:
Muscle pain and tenderness, especially after an activity that stretches or violently contracts the muscle – Pain usually increases when you move the muscle but is relieved by rest. Muscle swelling, discoloration or both Muscle cramp or spasm Either a decrease in muscle strength or (in Grade III strains) a complete loss of muscle function A pop in the muscle at the time of injury A gap, dent or other defect in the normal outline of the muscle (in Grade III strain)
What happens when you tense your muscles too much?
Symptoms of Overstretching – The adage of “No pain, no gain” is not a motto you want to live by. When you’re doing your stretches, you should certainly push your limits, but only to the point of feeling muscle tension as you stretch. Sharp or stabbing pains in your muscles are not desirable, and they may cause an injury from over-stretching, such as ligament or joint pain.
Why do weak muscles cause back pain?
How weak core muscles contribute to back pain onset – When these muscles are not used for a prolonged period of time, they can become weaker and as a result, they can no longer provide adequate support for the spine. Two things can happen following the weakening of core muscles:
- Muscles can become strained as they attempt to support the upper body because they lack the required strength.
- The lack of support that comes as a result of core muscles may cause the spine to become compressed as it attempts to bear the load of the upper body to compensate for weak muscles. In turn, this can lead to nerve compression, increased pressure on the spinal joints, disc herniation, and other spinal issues.
What happens when you loosen tight muscles?
Stress Relief – Tight muscles can be a result of stress, and loosening them can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Overall, having looser muscles can bring about numerous benefits, including improved flexibility, circulation, comfort, and a reduced risk of injury. In addition, it can promote relaxation and improve posture.
What happens when you stretch tight muscles?
Improved circulation – When you stretch a muscle, your body responds by increasing blood flow to that area. The blood vessels around the targeted muscle widen to allow more blood to flow through, and your heart starts pumping more blood. This increase in blood flow allows the muscle or muscles you’re stretching to receive more oxygen and to get rid of metabolic waste products.
Should I stretch my back if it hurts?
What should you try to find relief? – “When you’re dealing with lower back pain, doing regular stretching exercises can help maintain your posture, strengthen your back and abdominal muscles and improve flexibility,” says Dr. Kumaraswamy. “You should also continue to be active because movement relieves muscle spasms and prevents loss of muscle strength.” Over-the-counter medications, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or acetaminophen, may provide some added relief, as can certain pain-relieving creams, gels, patches or sprays.
Alternating between ice and heat can also help. “If you have to sit or drive for long periods of time, place a small pillow, lumbar roll or rolled towel behind your lower back,” says Dr. Kumaraswamy. If your pain persists for a few weeks despite conservative treatment, it’s best to see a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, so you can get on a path toward recovery.
You should also see a specialist if:
Symptoms wake you up at night Back pain moves into your legs Back pain is from an injury You experience numbness, tingling or weakness in your legs
What causes extremely tight back muscles?
Common Sciatica Symptoms – Other common symptoms include numbness or tingling, “pins and needles” or a burning sensation, as well as weakness- especially with certain activities. Treatment varies, depending on the severity and cause of the nerve compression. Low Back Anatomy Muscle tension is also an important factor to consider. Common causes of tense muscles include trauma, overuse or repetitive stress, and poor posture. A sudden traumatic injury from lifting improperly, a fall or an accident, sometimes referred to as “throwing out your back,” typically leads to pain, inflammation and muscle spasms.
Is it good to stretch a tight back?
Lower back pain is common, and many things can cause it. Certain stretches for lower back pain can bring you relief and improve flexibility of the inflamed muscles. Lower back pain might be a symptom of an underlying condition, like kidney stones or acute pancreatitis.
Other times, it’s a side effect of a sedentary lifestyle, repetitive motions, or a pulled muscle, While stretching isn’t a remedy for all lower back pain, in many instances, it can provide relief. Read on to learn seven stretching exercises that can help. Some yoga poses and gentle stretches may help loosen tight muscles in your lower back.
Be especially gentle and cautious if you have any type of injury or health concern. It’s best to talk with a doctor first before starting any new types of exercise, especially if a recent injury may be the cause of your pain. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) recommends avoiding sudden movements that can jolt or strain your back and using low impact exercises that build up your back and abdominal muscles.
- You can do these stretches once or twice a day.
- But if the lower back pain seems to get worse, or you’re feeling very sore, it may be best to take a day off from stretching.
- Be mindful of your body’s limits and don’t push your body to do too much.
- Listen to your body and do what feels best for you in each moment.
As you go through these stretches, take your time and pay close attention to your breathing, Use your breath as a guide to make sure you don’t strain or overdo it. You should be able to breathe comfortably and smoothly throughout each pose or stretch.
- This traditional yoga pose gently stretches your gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi (lats), and spinal extensors.
- It helps relieve pain and tension all along your spine, neck, and shoulders.
- Its relaxing effect on your body also helps loosen up tight lower back muscles, promoting flexibility along the spine.
To do Child’s Pose, follow these steps:
- With your hands and knees on the ground, sink back through your hips to rest them on your heels.
- Hinge at your hips as you fold forward, walking your hands out in front of you.
- Rest your belly on your thighs.
- Extend your arms in front of or alongside your body with your palms facing down.
- Focus on breathing deeply and relaxing any areas of tension or tightness.
- Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.
You can do this pose several times during your stretching routine. Feel free to do it between each of the other stretches you do.
Are muscles tight because they are weak?
Tight muscles? Stretching versus strengthening. Get the facts from an expert! For a lot of people the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a stiff joint or muscle will be stretching. Stretching has historically been performed as a method to make our muscles ‘long & lean’, however we need to consider and adhere to what the evidence is telling us regarding static stretching.
- Does stretching increase the length of our muscles? The short answer is no.
- People who have chronically tight muscles may stretch and stretch in an attempt to improve their muscle length but feel like they are seeing little improvement – and for good reason.
- Static stretching does not increase the length or our muscles! What does static stretching do then you may ask? Well it CAN improve the range of motion that we have around a joint, but it does not do so by changing the extensibility or stiffness of a muscle.
It does so by increasing your tolerance to the uncomfortable stretch sensation. So if you are stretching in order to make yourself ‘long & lean’, this simply will not happen. How then do we lengthen our tight/short muscles? ® Apply a load throughout the restricted movement (aka).
But my muscles are already tight, that must mean that they are already too strong/overactive? This train of thought is in the vast majority of cases, incorrect. Muscles that feel tight are generally short and weak. The common misconception surrounding strength training is that it will make your muscles really tight.
The reality is, the stronger your muscles are the better you will be able to control the movement of joints throughout their full range of movement and the more work they will be able to perform before they do get tight. in particular has been proven to increase muscle fascicle length within our muscles and stimulate sarcomerogenesis.
This long and difficult word basically means adding sarcomeres within the muscle. The result ® longer and stronger muscles. Along with everything else, stretching does have its place, but when it comes to making our muscles long and strong, strengthening will always trump stretching. If you’re keen to talk through your individual situation with an expert in this space, you have the option of chatting to either our or teams at OHL.
You can book with either discipline via our website and/or book via our phones on 9431 5955. Bronchiectasis is a chronic chest condition, classified as the abnormal widening of the bronchial airways and consequently an increased risk of infection within this space.
Are tight muscles weak muscles?
Do you stretch daily but the feeling of muscle tightness keep coming back!!? – Muscle tightness is a feeling and not a mechanical condition. Muscles that feel tight are not always shortened and stiff but can in fact be elongated, fatigued / weak! The feeling of muscle tightness is not an accurate measurement of range of motion. Patients come to us saying they have ‘tight’ hamstrings but can bend forward and put their hands on the floor! Also it doesn’t always correlate with hands on soft tissue work, patients might complain of ‘tight’ calves but there is no tension in them at all.
On the contrary some muscles that don’t feel tight to the client have high tension and muscle tone! This is very important to take into consideration, as the go to treatment for ‘tightness’ is doing stretches, which in fact could actually be making the problem worse and only giving you temporary relief.
A typical muscle that we see in our clinic which can cause a feeling of tightness in the neck and top of the shoulder blade is the levator scapulae. This can be caused from prolonged postures such as slumped shoulders, thoracic flexion, rounded shoulders causing shoulder blade protraction and / or forward head postures.
- These can put this muscle under stretch / tension for long periods causing fatigue in the muscle and therefore pain, which is commonly self treated with stretches, but in fact strengthening may be the best route to focus on.
- Prolonged postures can also reduce the blood supply to certain areas which irritates the nerves giving you a sensation of discomfort / tightness causing you to react and move, increasing the blood supply back to the nerve.
Once nerves are irritated they are easily irritated again so this can become an ongoing problem. Furthermore we must always consider the kinetic chain as you may be compensating from weakness in another muscle or from altered mechanics. For instance ‘tight’ (fatigued) hamstrings might be a symptom of weak glutes.
- The gluteus maximus is the main hip extensor but if this is not doing its job properly this can put more load through the hamstrings and adductor magnus causing fatigue in those muscles, in turn you get a sensation of tightness in your hamstrings or adductors.
- Also with a shoulder / neck injury you may start to alter the mechanics of your shoulder blade muscles which force certain muscles to do extra work to get you through daily life.
Take in to consideration if you go to the gym and train legs for the first time in a while, the delayed onset muscle soreness you get (muscle fatigue) acutely reduces your range of motion and you get a feeling of tightness/ fatigue in your legs! We regularly see patients with back / neck (spinal) tension which in certain cases the feeling of tightness looks to be a protective mechanism to reduce movement and re-injury.
This is all well and good in the acute stage of an injury or perceived threat of danger, however it can become a vicious circle over time as your reduction in movement will reduce your function / capacity. It has been shown in the research that two factors that help reduce the chances of getting lower back pain in the future is high movement variability and increasing general activity.
So don’t rush to stretch those muscles!!!! You might get temporary relief but it may make it worse and it may be not getting to the root cause! What we can do at SB Sports Massage & Rehabilitation ? The first aim if you are coming to us with the above issues is finding the root cause of your problems by going through a thorough subjective and objective examination to provide you with advice and a personalised treatment program.
- We see people in our clinics on a daily basis with these issue’s so we are highly experienced in getting you back to full fitness and improving your quality of life.
- You can book an appointment online via this link, BOOK HERE or call one of our clinics direct! You can find more of our informative blogs HERE By Ben Hampson BSc – Sport Rehabilitator (BASRaT registered) Instagram: @sbsportsmassage Facebook: SB Sports Massage & Rehabilitation Tasha R.
Stanton, G. Lorimer Moseley, Arnold Y.L. Wong, & Gregory N. Kawchuk. (2017). Feeling stiffness in the back: A protective perceptual inference in chronic back pain, Scientific Reports, 7(1), 1-12. Hargrove, T (2017) Why do muscles feel tight? Physio-Network
Can muscles be permanently tight?
Think of muscles as “on” or “off”, not “tight” or “loose” – I’ve treated many people who were perfectly flexible – even hypermobile – who still reported feeling tight. But it’s very hard to believe someone could be tight when they’re able to lay their palms flat on the ground from standing.
So if their muscles weren’t tight, what was causing that nagging sensation of tightness? To understand what was going on, first we need to talk about how muscles work. Muscles are turned “on” or “off” through a chemical interaction with the nerve synapse connected to them. The stronger this interaction, the more the muscle contracts.
Some muscles, known as postural muscles, are in a permanent state of contraction so that your body can hold certain positions. Then there are the dynamic muscles, such as your biceps, which generate power but only briefly.
- If a dynamic muscle is kept “on” for too long it can become fatigued.
- For example, sitting at your desk using a mouse won’t tire you out immediately, but stay like that for hours and your muscles in your shoulder, upper back and neck become worn out, leading to a sensation of tightness.
- Stretching may temporarily relieve symptoms because the overworked muscles are getting a break, but stretching won’t prevent the symptoms from coming back again because the tightness of the muscles isn’t the issue in the first place.
This isn’t to say muscles can’t be tight or loose. Muscle tightness can be an issue in certain settings: a footballer won’t be able to achieve a full range of motion on a kick if they have tight hamstrings. But, for me, though I experience tight hamstrings when I bend over to touch my toes, this isn’t an issue day-to-day because they cause no symptoms during normal activity.
How long does it take to loosen tight muscles?
STRETCHING RESEARCH – Many studies have evaluated various effects of different types and durations of stretching. Outcomes of these studies can be categorized as either acute or training effects. Acute effects measure the immediate results of stretching, while training effects are the results of stretching over a period of time.
- Stretching studies also vary by the different muscles or muscle groups that are being examined and the variety of populations studied, thereby making interpretation and recommendations somewhat difficult and relative.
- Each of these factors must therefore be considered when making conclusions based on research studies.
Several systematic reviews of stretching are available to provide general recommendations.3 – 6 The effectiveness of stretching is usually reported as an increase in joint ROM (usually passive ROM); for example, knee or hip ROM is used to determine changes in hamstring length.
Static stretching often results in increases in joint ROM. Interestingly, the increase in ROM may not be caused by increased length (decreased tension) of the muscle; rather, the subject may simply have an increased tolerance to stretching. Increases in muscle length are measured by “extensibility”, usually where a standardized load is placed on the limb and joint motion is measured.
Increased tolerance to stretch is quantified by measuring the joint range of motion with a non-standardized load. This is an important question to consider when interpreting the results of studies: was the improvement based on actual muscle lengthening (ie, increased extensibility) or just an increase in tolerance to stretch? 7 Chan and colleagues 8 showed that 8 weeks of static stretching increased muscle extensibility; however, most static stretching training studies show an increase in ROM due to an increase in stretch tolerance (ability to withstand more stretching force), not extensibility (increased muscle length).9 – 12 Static stretching is effective at increasing ROM.
The greatest change in ROM with a static stretch occurs between 15 and 30 seconds; 13, 14 most authors suggest that 10 to 30 seconds is sufficient for increasing flexibility.14 – 17 In addition, no increase in muscle elongation occurs after 2 to 4 repetitions.18 Unfortunately, however, static stretching as part of a warm-up immediately prior to exercise has been shown detrimental to dynamometer-measured muscle strength 19 – 29 and performance in running and jumping.30 – 39 The loss of strength resulting from acute static stretching has been termed, “stretch-induced strength loss.” 3 The specific causes for this type of stretch induced loss in strength is not clear; some suggest neural factors, 31, 40 while others suggest mechanical factors.19, 23 Furthermore, the strength loss may be related to the length of the muscle at the time of testing 23 or the duration of the stretch.25 Interestingly, a maximal contraction of the muscle being stretched before static stretching may decrease stretch-induced strength loss.41 Contraction of a muscle performed immediately before it is stretched is effective at increasing ROM.
While most pre-contraction stretching is associated with PNF-type contract-relax or hold-relax techniques using 75 to 100% of a maximal contraction, Feland et al 42 showed that submaximal contractions of 20 or 60% are just as effective, thus supporting the effectiveness of post-isometric relaxation stretching.
- Interestingly, ROM increases are seen bilaterally with pre-contraction stretching, 43 supporting a possible neurologic phenomenon.
- The specific phenomenon associated with an increase in flexibility following a pre-stretch contraction remains unclear.
- Many have assumed that muscle experiences a refractory period after contraction known as ‘autogenic inhibition’, where muscle relaxes due to neuro-reflexive mechanisms, thus increasing muscle length.
Interestingly, electromyographic (EMG) studies have shown that muscle activation remains the same 7, 44 or increases after contraction.45 – 50 Some researchers have speculated that the associated increases in ROM are related to increased stretch tolerance 51, 52 rather than a neurological phenomenon.
- Some researchers suggest that Hoffman reflexes (H-reflexes) are depressed with a pre-contraction stretch.45, 53 The H-reflex is an EMG measurement of the level of excitability of a muscle: lower H-reflexes are associated with lower excitability.
- It is possible that the lowered excitability levels may allow muscle to relax through the gamma motor neuron system despite an increased activation through the alpha system.
Obviously, more research is needed to investigate these neurological effects of pre-contraction stretching.
Does exercise help muscle tightness?
Over the past few weeks it’s been like deja vu one after another my client came into my clinic telling me they restrain from doing exercises as they are afraid it will make their already tight muscles tighter! As weird as it may sound to you but i’m going tell you this is a myth.
- Strengthening your muscles does not make it “tight” or “stiff” If done a certain way (eccentric strengthening-Eccentric training is when you contract the muscle while it is getting longer.) it can actually help increase the stretch tolerance and flexibility of that muscles.
- Just stretching and not strengthening your muscles will make those muscles prone to injuries.
A lot of our clients often report a sensation of tightness and pain in their muscles. As such we are frequently asked for stretches or whether massage or dry needling would help. While stretching might give a short-term benefit, strong evidence have shown that that eccentric training can;
Increase the length of our muscle fibres and Improve joint range of movement AND Improve muscle strength AND Reduce injury risk at the same time!
Soreness isn’t always an indicator that a muscle needs to be stretched. It can also be an indicator that the muscle itself isn’t strong enough. A lot of times, chronically tight muscles are tight because they’re weak. Weakness reduces efficiency of muscle activation which leads to over activating muscles fibre that is not required and constantly being overworked creating a “tightness” sensation.
- By increasing the strength of the muscles, you increase the efficiency of the muscles and hence reduce unnecessary overloading of it which will help reduce that ” tight” / “stiff ” sensation.
- Now, I’m not saying that stretching is useless, because if you are one of those people who never stretch in your entire life, you probably do very much need stretching, massaging, dry needling.
Our muscles work best in their mid range. However if you increase the flexibility of your muscles,your ideal/ optimal range would significantly increase as well. So the ideal situation or training routine should have a combination of stretches and strengthening at the same time to maximise the benefit and reduce your sensation of “tightness” & “stiffness”
Can tight muscles damage nerves?
Muscles, bones, tendons, or scar tissue can squeeze nerves. So can swelling, tight shoes or equipment, or an injury. Pinched nerves are also more likely to happen with overuse, staying in one position too long, or having conditions like arthritis.
How do I know if back pain is muscular?
Common Symptoms of a Pulled Back Muscle – Symptoms to expect from a pulled lower back muscle—or any type of lower back strain—typically include:
Dull, achy low back pain. Strained muscles usually feel sore, tight, or achy. Pain that feels hot, tingling, or electric is more likely caused by an irritated nerve root, not a pulled muscle. Intensified pain with movement. Low back strain typically worsens with specific movements that activate the affected muscles. For example, there may be a flare-up of pain when getting up from a seated position, when bending forward, or when first getting out of bed in the morning. Pain that is localized in the low back. Pain is usually concentrated in the lower back. It may also be felt in the buttocks and/or hips, as these muscles help support the low back. Rarely does pain travel down the legs and into the calves and feet, as in cases of sciatica,
Stiffness, difficulty walking or standing. Typical movements may be limited when a low back muscle is strained, making it difficult to bend, shift positions, or walk or stand for extended periods. Local tenderness and inflammation. A muscle strain may become inflamed and feel tender to the touch. Muscle spasms and cramps can cause intense pain and temporarily limit mobility, as the affected area in the lower back may be swollen for a few days. Watch: Causes of Back Muscle Spasms Video Pain relief when resting. Briefly resting the low back muscles allows them to relax, alleviating tension and spasms. Reclining in a supported position, such as sitting in a recliner with legs elevated or lying in bed or on the floor with the knees slightly elevated, may temporarily reduce pain. Pain will likely intensify when getting up to move again. See Lower Back Pain Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
A common underlying component of the intense pain associated with a lower back muscle strain is from muscle spasms, The acute contraction of muscle fibers in the lower back, which are intertwined within and around an extensive network of nerves, can cause intense pain. Dr. Kojo Hamilton is a neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. For more than a decade he has specialized in spine trauma, adult spinal deformity, and minimally invasive spine surgery.
How do I know if back pain is muscle or more serious?
5 signs your back pain might be an emergency About 80% of adults will experience back pain in their lives, so it’s important to be able to identify the severity of your symptoms.
In our 20s and 30s, “normal” back pain often can be attributed to factors of daily life, such as sitting too long, picking up children, or overdoing it while exercising. In our 40s and older, work injuries and the beginnings of arthritis and degenerative conditions are more common.Back pain is so common, in fact, that many patients shrug off symptoms that might indicate a medical emergency.Approximately 80% of adults will experience back pain in their lives, so it’s important to be able to identify the severity of your symptoms and track how long the pain lasts.
If back pain can be associated with a specific activity, such as lifting or twisting wrong, and the pain goes away within 72 hours after resting and applying ice, it’s usually nothing to worry about. However, if pain creeps on gradually, appears suddenly, or doesn’t go away, you might have a more serious condition.
How do you know if back pain is internal or muscular?
A dull ache when you move – If your muscles are strained, they will feel like a sore or tight ache. A pulled muscle would not feel hot, tingling, or electric like an irritated nerve root would. The pain would only subside while you are relaxed and resting, as the tension and spasms are alleviated. However, the pain would most likely flare up when you get up to move again.