September 17, 2020

What Makes Muscles Tight?

I talk about flexibility with people and what do they do? Oh, I have tight hamstrings. I have really tight calves. My chest is always so tight and they don't know where to contribute the origins of that tension!

They're sitting there thinking "my chest is the problem in why my chest is tight" or "my hamstrings are the problem and why my hamstrings are tight" or "my genetics are the problem in why my hamstrings are tight" or whatever my back is so tight.

Your lack of flexibility does not come from your muscles or genes.

It comes from your nervous system. Your nervous system signals, muscles and all kinds of different things in your body to create movement. Now let's understand something. If I want to bend over and touch my toes, if I just let gravity do the job and passively fold over, I'm not really sending a signal to tell anything specifically what to do.

If flexibility, it coming from my nervous system, that might create some things. So let's follow this logic here. If I bend over on purpose and I use the muscles to bring myself to my end point of range of motion. What happens is my nervous system uses one set of muscles, like my hip flexors (If we're talking about bending over to touch our toes) and it also lets the opposite muscles know that they're supposed to lengthen, just like if I bend my arm, if I contract my bicep, then my tricep receives information that It has to lengthen. And if I do vice versa, this shortens this lengthens. And if I do that actively, I can get a more efficient cooperation in those muscles instead of what's called a co-contraction.

So, if you are tight, what you are getting is called a co-contraction. So if you bend over to try to touch your toes and you get locked up anywhere between your knee caps or your shins or your ankles, that is because your nervous system has a little red flag going up that says "I don't believe this is safe for you to do. I'm going to contract some muscles protectively to stop you right there, mister, because I believe that from past things, past injuries, past postures, past habits, that this is not a safe range of motion for you."

Now, is that truly justified in some people? Yes, because of active current injuries or things that are totally blown out structurally.

However, for most people, (99 plus percent of people) that stoppage is from old information. Your nervous system has learned that stopping you is the proper pattern based on that old information.

So how do we change that? How do we change the signals in these patterns? One way that we do it at Evo Performance Rehab is we use specialized neuromuscular stimulators that tell the muscles that we want to have lengthen to tell your brain. So, here's information sent into the muscle. That feedback goes is up to the brain. The brain gets the information that "Hey. This is moving. This is lengthening. This is something that's okay. I'm not being injured." So then that person moves and we signal appropriately. And that flexibility changes on the spot.

I worked with a young man yesterday had not touched his toes in three years. This is a young guy. We've put that stimulus right where we needed it to say, "Hey, nervous system. It's okay for these muscles to lengthen." Guess how long it took him to touch his toes?

10 seconds. Okay. Three years, not being able to do it right... Information and signaling... 10 seconds to change it.

So your flexibility is not dependent upon your muscles. It's dependent on the signals, your muscles receive.

This flexibility thing can be a key to your quality of life, your training, your movement, your health, your pain, all of these things are afflicted or affected by your flexibility. And that flexibility comes from signaling and patterns. That's our job: to get you back on track and all the time we do it really well.

Recover with EVO

Each Neuro-Therapy process begins with a free phone consultation, followed by an in-clinic or virtual Evaluation Treatment session. 

We introduce the Neuro-Therapy process so you get to experience the significant changes that even one session can make. 

This helps us find the best treatment plan for your lasting success.

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