Do you struggle with your muscles seizing up or feeling incredibly tight and even cramping painfully? One of the most common forms of discomfort in our body is muscle tightness. This condition occurs when a muscle is contracted for an extended period of time, causing it to feel stiff and inflexible. It limits range of motion and can cause pain.  Muscle tightness can be caused by a variety of factors, including injuries, continual sitting, stress, poor movement patterns and posture.

Many people turn to stretching as a way to alleviate tightness, but can stretching actually prevent muscles from “seizing up”?  Many people perform a quick stretch after a workout or run, then forget about it until the next time or if pain and stiffness alert them.

Maybe you think stretching is boring, uncomfortable, or just plain optional. But when you skip stretching, you’re giving up improved range of motion during your strength or cardio session, a more efficient and effective workout, and a faster recovery with less muscle soreness.

Whether or not you lead an active or sedentary lifestyle, regular stretching offers a simple way to improve your health.

Stretching: Can It Prevent Muscle Tightness?

Stretching is a form of physical activity that involves elongating muscles to improve flexibility, mobility and range of motion in our joints. It also helps maintain the elasticity of muscles, preventing them from shortening and tightening, leading to muscle tightness.

When you move, your muscles contract (shorten) and relax (lengthen)repeatedly. When you do not move such as sitting for extended periods, your muscles don’t contract and relax, leading to tightness. Stretching can help counteract this effect by mimicking muscle contraction and relaxation through different stretching techniques.

Studies show that regular stretching and movement can help prevent muscle tightness by improving the range of motion in joints and muscles, reducing muscle soreness and stiffness, and improving circulation, which brings oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. It also helps relieve stress and tension, which can contribute to muscle tightness.

Stretching Tips and safety

As with all exercise, there are some safety guidelines.  If you have an injury or any physical limitations, only perform stretches recommended to you by your health professional, such as our chiropractors.

There are two main types of stretching:

  • Static stretching, where muscles are held in a stretched position for a period of time (the traditional stretch-and-hold approach) like Pigeon Pose, a single leg hamstring stretch.
  • Dynamic stretching, which involves moving the muscles and joints through a full range of motion in a controlled manner (i.e. stretch while moving), like inchworm walkouts, cow and cat stretch poses in yoga moving slowly without extended holds.

Most important is to focus on dynamic stretching as a warm-up before exercise (strength or cardio) and static stretching after a workout.

Both should involve stretches that directly relate to the muscle groups you’re targeting in your workout.

If you feel tight or stiff, or you just like the relaxation of stretching, you can also incorporate static stretching as part of your daily routine to improve flexibility and functional range of motion.

Before your workout, skip the static stretching, which may compromise your strength and power. Cold muscles are not as “pliable”, which makes stretching a little harder and more at risk of “pulling”  a muscle. Instead, opt for dynamic stretching as a warm-up. Focus on the muscles and joints you’re about to be using.

Don’t overdo it. If you’re stretching the same muscle groups too often or too far, you risk over stretching and causing injuries, inflammation and even pain.

Stretching should not feel painful, but it is normal to feel some tension. A stretch should feel like a stretch! If you experience pain while stretching or you have any questions, just ask us for advice.

How long should you stretch for? A minimum of 15 second, but ideally 30 to 60 seconds is optimal time to hold a static stretch.

Chiropractic Rehab and Stretching

Our chiropractors use various techniques to help relieve muscle tension, and that includes stretching. Our chiropractors focus on rehabilitation and correcting faulty movement patterns to address the underlying cause of long term muscle tightness and help patients improve their range of motion. This includes prescribing specific stretching and exercise programs that are specifically targeted to an individual’s needs.

Chiropractic care can also involve the manipulation of spinal joints and tissues to improve joint mobility, relieve pain and restore function. Regular chiropractic adjustments can help improve joint mobility and reduce muscle tension in areas prone to tightness.

Our chiropractic care, rehab and stretching work hand in hand to promote mobility and flexibility. Our Chiropractors customise stretching programs based on the patient’s needs, ensuring they are stretching safely and effectively.

Stretching is a valuable tool in preventing muscle tightness and seizing up. It helps maintain the elasticity of muscles and improve range of motion, and chiropractic care can improve the effectiveness of stretching by increasing joint mobility and reducing muscle tension. Together, stretching and chiropractic can help maintain a healthy, pain-free body. If you need stretching techniques or chiropractic care to help keep your muscles from being overly stiff and “seizing up”, contact us or call the clinic on 0266744032.