You have a constant tightness that will not go away no matter how much stretching you do for it. You have done all the stretches and rolling that your physical therapist, chiropractor, massage therapist, friend, YouTube, and/or Dr. Google told you to do for it, but still aren’t back to training like you want to be. It’s frustrating. I get it. I talk to people just like yourself every day.
So, what’s the deal? Why is your tightness not improving?
Here’s the deal: Unless the tightness you are feeling is an acute tightness from a recent hard, intense workout, stretching is likely not going to solve your problem.
Most chronic tightness is a symptom of something else going on. Until you address whatever is causing the tightness, the tightness will remain
What exactly is this something else that is causing the tightness?
It can be a number of things, but usually stems from either lack of mobility or lack of stability or control. And many times it is a combination of both.
Your body will continue to do what it can to function, so when you are lacking mobility in an area, the muscles are required to work harder in order to attempt to get the area to move. Do this long enough and issues occur in the muscles and tendons, which can result in a range of issues – chronic tightness, tendinitis, muscle strains, etc.
The same impact can occur in the muscles and tendons for the opposite reason. When we lack stability or control of an area, the body will do what it can to stabilize and protect the area. The best way the body knows how to do that is by tightening up the muscles around the joint. When the muscles are tight, the body is able to lock the joint down, giving it the stability it is wanting. Until you actively gain the stability in the area, the tightness will not resolve.
Unfortunately, figuring out the puzzle is not always simple. Just because tightness is in your foot, for example, does not mean the issue is there. Our body is truly all connected. A hip issue can create issues in the foot/ankle area and vice versa. The foot can create issues in the back or neck. This is why I highly suggest working with a professional who truly knows how the body works and addresses an injury from a whole body standpoint, not just treating the area that is injured.
Written by Brianne Showman. Brianne is a physical therapist and running coach with Get Your Fix Physical Therapy And Performance. Her focus is on helping athletes resolve injuries in less time by getting to the root of the problem, improving movement patterns, and incorporating proper training to help the body to move more efficiently, more powerfully, and in less injury-prone ways.