What causes my muscles to feel tight?

What causes my muscles to feel tight?

Everyone experiences tight muscles at some point. But what causes your muscles to become tight? There are several reasons why muscles become tense. The reasons can include stress, exercise, diet, or lack of mobility. Once you have a tight muscle, what can you do to fix it? Some of the answers may surprise you.


What is a Tight Muscle?

A muscle is tight when it's stiff and has difficulty moving. You may feel that your muscles are more rigid after you have been stationary for a long time. In some cases, it can take a few minutes to get moving. Another way of imagining it is that your muscle is a giant rubber band. The muscle's temperature will help determine how well it works. For example, when a rubber band is warm, it has more stretch and gives more. But when a rubber band is cold, it is not as elastic and does not stretch as easily.


Benefits of Stretching

One of the most significant benefits of stretching is that it warms your muscles. When you stretch, you are getting the blood flowing through the tissue. This increase in blood flow provides the necessary nutrients to the muscle so it can function correctly. The most common time to stretch is before and after exercising. Stretching before working out gets your muscles ready to move. Conversely, doing it after your routine helps replace the lost nutrients in your muscles.


Another benefit of stretching is loosening the muscles. If your muscles are tight, you run the risk of hurting yourself. Sometimes, you may not have stretched enough before your physical activity, and you end up pulling a muscle.  When you strain a muscle, your body is telling you, “I was not ready for that activity.” It is the body’s warning system. The pain you are feeling is the muscle saying that something is not right.


Causes of a Tight Muscle

Several factors can cause your muscles to become tight. Some of these elements may be on both ends of the spectrum. For example, your muscles may become uncomfortable from both a lack of movement and too much activity.  You may be experiencing tightness from fatigue and stress or improper diet. After all, your muscles are living organs and require nutrients to survive.


First, the muscles may start to become tight because you're not moving around enough. If you have been sitting at your desk for an extended period, do you notice that it is harder for you to get up or walk? You become stiff, and until your muscles start waking up, you have a little more difficulty getting around. But once you have been moving for a while, you can move freely.


On the flip side, soreness and stiffness could be that you worked your muscles harder than usual. When you exercise, you can push yourself, but you need to listen to your body. If you are driving your muscles too hard and not letting them rest, you can hurt yourself. You need to give your muscles time to recoup. Recovery does not mean that you have to stop working out. Instead, you need to structure your routines to alternate between heavy and light workout days.


Another cause for tightness in your muscles is stress or anxiety. Your career or other life choices can play a factor in your stress level. If you are in a profession that is high stress, for example, a police officer or doctor, you are more likely to have tighter muscles. So if you are in a high-stress job or situation, make sure you take care of your body!


Your diet can also play a factor in your muscles becoming tight. If you are not providing your muscles with the proper nutrients, you may start to feel fatigued. Eating a proper diet gives your body the fuel and energy it needs. When your muscles do not receive the right nutrients, they start using those stored within it. In essence, your muscles are eating themselves just to get what they need.


Deep Tissue Massage

When you begin to feel your muscles tighten, you can get some relief with deep tissue massage. A deep tissue massage will get the blood moving through your muscles. One option for a deep tissue massage is foam rollers. Using a foam roller after your workout is another excellent way to keep the blood and nutrients flowing to your muscles. Another option is an appointment for a massage therapy session. During your massage therapy session, the therapist will work your muscles and relieve the tightness you are feeling. The primary benefit of using a massage therapist is that you can tell him or her where it hurts, and then he or she can work on that specific part of the body.


If you are looking for more information on massage therapy or to make an appointment, contact Extended Hands Massage Therapy.