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Why Muscles Get Tight

June 15, 20243 min read

Most of us are all too familiar with tight muscles.  Whether it’s an isolated issue or a more chronic one, cranky muscles can really impact our lives.  As with so many things, if we can understand why something happens, we can take the necessary steps to try to avoid it from happening in the first place.  Let’s take a look at what causes our muscles to get tight and unhappy in the first place.

Injuries

A muscle or muscle group can become injured in a few different ways.  

If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know that your body probably experienced pain in the days following the collision.  A sudden and unexpected movement can cause our bodies to move in ways it wasn’t ready to move, resulting in strains and possibly muscle tears. 

 

Your muscles might also have been injured if you’ve worked out too intensely or improperly, causing tightness and tears to the muscles as well.  Over-stretching can also injure your muscles, especially if you’re stretching too deeply and getting into the muscle attachment points.

As a means of protection, our muscles will tighten up to help the affected area heal.  An example of this is when I injured my wrist a few years ago and had nerve and tendon damage.  The muscles surrounding my wrist and thumb became tight as they tried to protect that area and help it heal.  In cases like this, sometimes it’s helpful to do some gentle self-massage and fascia releasing techniques to help with the healing – though listen to your doctor’s advice and be mindful of their recommendations that are specific to your healing.

Overuse

When we overdo it, there’s often a price to pay.  

Think back to a time when you’ve moved – meaning moved your furniture from one house to a different house.  Chances are your muscles were tired and cranky in the days following the move.  That’s because they were overused in ways that they’re not used to.   Taking it easier and being mindful of overuse are essential for happier muscles, especially the ones that might already be cranky and chronically tight.

Behavioral Patterns

Whether it’s reaping the rewards of daily stretching or dealing with discomfort that comes with having tight hips because you sit on your couch in a wonky way each night, what we do regularly impacts our bodies in big ways.  

Notice how your body is positioned when you do your daily tasks.  How do you stand when doing the dishes or brushing your teeth?  How is your body usually positioned when you’re sleeping?  How do you sit at your desk?  All of these things create muscle tightness in some way.  Because we’re aiming for a symmetrical body, take some time to sleuth out what weird ways you position yourself during daily tasks, and then make any corrections needed to return to a more neutral state.

Stress

We know how stress negatively impacts the body, and having tight muscles is one manifestation of that stress response.  That’s why preventative measures in the stress-relief department are so important.  The next time you feel stressed out, take inventory of your body and notice what muscles might be tightening up in that moment, and then see if you can gently coax them to release their grip.

Dehydration

When we don’t drink enough water each day, we quickly fall into a dehydrated state.  Among the many implications dehydration has on our bodies, muscle tension is a biggie.  Be sure to drink enough water each day so that you can easily eliminate this possible cause.

These are just a few ways that our daily activities can impact our muscle happiness.  The first step is to bring your awareness to the situation so that you can help yourself feel better.  Once you’ve recognized your pattern or the cause of the muscle tightness, you’ll be able to help your body feel so much happier.

Tight MusclesPhysical TherapyWellnessYogaMassageMyofascial ReleaseFasciaMusclesFlexibility
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