Imagine walking on a sheet of ice, struggling to find your balance. Every muscle in your body tightens, bracing for each unknown, unstable step.
This is a neurological response.
When the body senses instability, it "tightens up" as a protective mechanism.
Understanding this mechanism, and addressing underlying muscle weaknesses, are key to soothing your tight, achy muscles.
The Fitness Doctor's training program protects your joints, eases muscle pain, and forges strength and stability. We do this by identifying weak muscles and activating them with the isolation movements that are often ignored by the fitness world.
Your average trainer will tell you to stretch a tight muscle, or foam-roll the tightness away. However, this approach does not always work.
Many people stretch day-after-day and never increase their flexibility!
Muscle tightness is a protective mechanism against instability and a signal that other, weaker muscles are causing that instability. Whether you’re standing up from a chair, doing a squat, or balancing on ice, your muscles spend every moment of every day making thousands of microadjustments, tensing and relaxing in response to your environment. They’re also adjusting to one another.
When they are in balance, the muscles on the front of your body and the muscles on the back of your body essentially tug a joint into “neutral” position.
Your pecs and lats, for example, help properly position your shoulders.
Like a "tug-of-war".
This is how muscles are supposed to work: equal strength on opposing sides of a joint. One of the central tenets of The Fitness Doctor's methodology is training antagonistic muscle groups (groups that oppose one another).
Here is an example:
ARE YOU SITTING ALL DAY?
If your lats weaken, perhaps because you’re sitting constantly or you’re not training them, this would allow your shoulders to shift forward, leading to imbalance. Stretching your chest wouldn’t solve weakness in your back.
Instead, you need to activate and build strength in your rhomboid and trapezius muscles, the muscles between your spine and shoulder blades.
Hit the MAT
Foam rolling is an excellent way to promote blood flow to a muscle, and stretching can help you understand your muscles’ full range of motion.
But neither actually solves muscle tightness.
The Problem: Tight Hips
The Fitness Doctor's Solution: Lie on the floor, raise your leg as shown, and turn your thigh inward as far as you can. Hold for 6 seconds, then relax. Repeat 6 times per side.