Stretching: The Solution to Muscle Pain… or Is It?

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Do you have tight, stiff, or painful muscles? You obviously need to stretch more, right?

If something is tight, stiff or painful, we immediately assume it needs to be stretched. Stretching may provide temporary relief for some, but the majority of people do not get results. Unfortunately, stretching is not the answer to all of your problems. In this article, we will talk about two of the major contributors to your tight, stiff, and painful muscles.

The first contributor is protective tension. Protective tension is the spasm of a muscle to protect an irritated or damaged area. The easiest way to visualize this is to think about someone who has lower back pain. They try to touch their toes but immediately feel their back and hamstrings stretch, which prevents them from bending forward. This is your body’s way of preventing you from loading the irritated and damaged area. Your hamstrings aren’t “tight”; rather, they are contracting to prevent you from causing more damage. Stretching in this case would only make it worse.

The second contributor is adhesion. Adhesions form in muscles mainly from overuse and prolonged positions (sitting and standing). Adhesions are like glue in your muscles that don’t allow them to stretch properly. This leads to tight, stiff, and painful areas because the joint isn’t allowed to move properly. The great thing about adhesion is that it is reversible and, once removed, the muscles and joints can move properly, effectively reducing your symptoms. Adhesions are treated by specific soft tissue work by a certified provider.

The next time something is tight, stiff, or painful, don’t waste your time with stretching. Have it properly diagnosed and treated by a professional. This could save you many problems down the road.

If you have tight, stiff, or painful muscles, please click the button below. Dr. Phipps is a soft tissue specialist located in the Buffalo/Western NY area.

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