Muscle Tightness: Pain Causing
Updated: Oct 8, 2020
The hip flexor muscles are very important when it comes to lower body activity. The flexor muscles are located right above the quadriceps. This group includes the tensor fasciae latae, iliopsoas, sartorius, and the rectus femoris. This collection of muscles complements smaller muscles that collectively contribute to lifting up the femur (i.e. raising the knee towards the chest). With a tight group of hip flexor muscles, physical performances like running, jumping and stair climbing could suffer. The reason for this is that the joints’ range of motion decreases due to overuse and negates the ability of the muscles, tendons and ligaments to travel the proper distance. While the subject area should be inactive until stretching is performed, if they continue to physically work, in time this work becomes traumatic.
Genetics often takes the blame for something that can or cannot physically be done, but that's usually taking the easy way out. While genetics plays a key role in where we start, we determine how far forward we can go or how far backwards we go. In general, muscle tightness negates the proper range of motion and applying proper stretches helps to increase the range of motion.
Many people who've come to me assume they cannot maintain stamina in an exercise or activity because of weak muscles. While that can be true to a point, tightness can also prevent the muscles from performing for longer periods. To carry out any exercise correctly requires proper movements within the proper range of motion, and tightness will prevent this from occurring smoothly.
An ongoing problem with tight muscles is that the body usually begins to overcompensate to protect the affected area and while the body is imbalanced, other muscle groups take on a lot of the extra load. This problem needs to be addressed quickly.
I remember limping around after an ankle sprain one day and was called "gimp" by an old friend, although it was a harmless joke, I did not like the thought of remaining that way. Many people are becoming that way because of the ignorance that it started with tight muscles; whether it’s in the hips, calves, glutes etc.
As a high performance athlete, I spent many times going over running, double and single leg jumps, and over time it has played a key factor in decreasing my range of motion and performance. Because I did not understand the muscle-stress to muscle-flexibility principle, I was focusing on muscle stress while I lacked flexibility. It also brought me much pain and discomfort. This caused me to actively find out how necessary flexibility was.
Many will tell you to be careful about how long you spend in a specific stretch because you risk the consequences of overstretching. I do not disagree, but we must keep in mind that some muscles are much tighter than others. I spend a longer period of time stretching, depending on the response the muscles gave to my performance. For example, I would spend sixty seconds in stretching my quadriceps, and if I didn't feel it helped much, I'd include an additional twenty to thirty seconds. I once went as far as over three minutes before I began to feel relief because that's how tight I was.
While not everyone needs that exact length of application, some unavoidably do. You could possibly try adding twenty extra seconds if the prior stretch duration did not relieve the tightness. Always be careful, and it may even be a good idea to have a partner with you when stretching.
In summary, when these muscles become overstressed due to built-up tension and need relief, stretching increases the range of motion and relieves the tension, which in time keeps you physically active. Some would need to stretch longer than others, depending solely on the level of muscle tightness.
Before applying this information, seek the advice of your primary care doctor or a licensed physical therapist to learn the benefits of flexibility.
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