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Tight Muscles? But are they really....

Are your muscles really that tight? Maybe you don’t stretch enough...or maybe you do but that's not what you need.

A common complaint people have is of tight muscles- hamstrings, hip flexors, neck muscles...the list goes on. People stretch and stretch without any lasting effects. So what gives?

First of all, you do not need to stretch or foam roll for hours on end to improve muscle flexibility. If you are spending 2-5 minutes stretching and rolling out a few days a week without any last effects, try something else. You are stretching adequate amounts of time, you are just doing the wrong thing.

In many cases, a muscle is tight in an effort of protection for the body. Many times, this is due to that muscle being weak. Your nervous system wants to protect you and causes the muscle to tighten up. In other cases, the muscle is tightening up, again as protection, because the muscles around it are not doing their job.

So how do you know the difference? Don’t go based on how the muscle feels. Let’s look instead at passive range of motion. Let’s take a look at the hamstrings as that is a common complaint of tightness; and people everywhere are trying to stretch them to no avail.

So check your active ROM first; in 2 positions:

Standing- can you touch your toes?

Sitting- can you touch your toes?

If you answered yes, you don’t have tight hamstrings. They just feel tight. Keep reading to find more answers.

If you answered no, let’s test 2 more ways:

Lie on your back. Keeping your leg straight (no knee bend)- lift your leg as high as possible- did you reach at least 70 degrees at the hip?

Have someone or a band lift your leg from you foot- did you reach at least 80 degrees?

If you answered yes to the following tests, you DON'T have tight hamstrings. And that's why stretching isn't helping you.

If in the very last test, where someone is lifting your leg (passive range of motion), you failed, then congrats you have tight hamstrings. Stretch more! You could also try contract-relax stretching to help keep those gains!

Continuing on with hamstrings...cause I know y’all still have questions. Best way to strengthen and lengthen the hamstrings? Try to find exercises that will work on eccentrics such as...

Banded SLRs

Jefferson curl

Nordic hamstring curls

Good mornings

When we want to decrease muscle tension or perceived muscle tension, we want to work eccentrics (or negatives) slowly and into the maximum range of motion that we have and can control. But it is also important to work strengthening in all aspects

Better yet, call body Fix 180 to get help on deciding the best course of action for you specifically.

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