But I’ve been stretching them every day and they still feel tight….
I’m sure everyone who works with people who move has had either this, or a version of this conversation.
It makes sense right? Strengthen what’s weak and stretch what’s tight…. thats what we learn…?
Whilst there is a lot of logic to this thought process, it is what I like to call, a ‘well intended mistake’. What we should be doing when something ‘feels’ tight is asking ourselves why?.
There is always a reason.
Seldom is the reason for something being tight, because it is too short. It is very difficult for us to actually lose sarcomeres and create a genuine reduction in muscle tissue length. A far more likely explanation for ‘tightness’ is a phenomenon known as protective neural tension. This is essentially a fancy way of saying that our bodies are trying to lock down an area that it perceives as being vulnerable – usually due to instability or weakness. If our nervous system thinks we are at risk of damage by something moving too much it just will lock it down. We can think of this a little like natures plaster cast!
Much the same way as we wouldn’t remove a plaster cast until the damaged structures inside it have repaired and strengthened, if we experience protective tension we shouldn’t just push through it and force it to move anyway.
Most of the time when something feels tight, the way forwards is to strengthen it, not stretch it.
I put together this little video in answer to a few questions on this subject – check it out and let me know what you think.