Have you ever tried to stretch a tight area, but no matter how much you stretch it, you feel tight?
In both my personal experience and teaching clients over the years, I’ve found that the solution to alleviating tightness isn’t always as simple as stretching.
Before continuing, it’s important to know that the sensation of tightness does not necessarily mean that your tissues are mechanically tight.
In other words, you can feel tight and have a normal range of motion.
Many factors can contribute to the feeling of tightness including stress levels, sleep duration, diet, and exercise. We often feel tight after we’re stuck in one position for too long, such as sitting in the car or working for hours at the desk.
If you find stretching isn’t helping, here are some other strategies to help alleviate the tightness.
#1 Move Differently
How much movement variety do you have from day to day? Even if you’re active, you may benefit from varying your movements. Performing novel movements and switching up your physical routines is sometimes all your body needs to feel less tight.
#2 Continue Stretching, But Do A Bit Less
If your nervous system feels threatened by a stretch, it will stiffen your muscles to protect your body. The next time you stretch, try decreasing the range of motion, so that you can breathe comfortably and relax into the stretch. Restorative yoga poses are wonderful for this. As a general rule of thumb, stretching should feel enjoyable.
#3 Look Elsewhere In The Body
Ida Rolf, the founder of Rolfing said, “Where you think it is, it ain’t.” Sometimes tightness is a response to what’s happening elsewhere in the body. Bringing more awareness, mobility, and coordination to another area of the body may ease up tension in another.
#4 Strengthen the Tight Area
Sometimes an area feels tight because it’s actually weak or underused. Building gradual strength in a tight area can improve function, build resilience and may also alleviate tightness.
The next time you feel a stubborn tight spot, remember there are many factors that could be contributing to the sensation. Rather than simply stretching, try out some of the strategies above and see what works for you. If you continue to feel tight, it may be worth getting some support from a movement specialist.