Brief Overview Series – Why do muscles get tight? Part 3
Being a Registered Massage Therapist, I often get asked, “Why do muscles get tight?”
In part 3 we are going to talk about Exercise & Posture: Muscle Maintenance vs Building
There are many types of “Exercise” however when we break it down there are really only two types: Cardio & Strength training. Cardio exercise, such as biking/spinning, elliptical, stair climbers, are designed to strengthen the Heart. Strength Training, primarily done with free weights or weight machines, are designed to strengthen/maintain the peripheral muscles. All the variations are basically a combination of these two such as aerobics, Yoga, Pilates, Cross Training, Kettle Bell, etc…
Both styles are essential. A strong heart delivers blood and nutrients faster to the body. A strong body will ideally have more energy and keep the body in good posture and structurally sound.
The issue that is most common in the clinic has to do with poor posture and its long term effects.
The reality is that in today’s society many common activities are pulling us forward, for example: Studying, computer use; especially laptops, smartphone use, even driving. These activities cause us to slouch, rounding our upper backs and rounding our shoulders. They are also a cause of Head Forward Posture which we discussed previously.
To review a principle of muscle function: muscles get tight when they are weak in order to create a splint. Our postural muscles are no exception to that rule and in fact suffer more from it because they are constantly in use. To clarify, even though all our muscles are involved in posture, our postural muscles are comprised of our chest muscles, spinal muscles; especially in the low back, hip flexors and calves.
It is important to build or at least maintain postural muscle integrity including calve raises, Rows to strengthen the spinal muscles and Flys to combat the rounding shoulders. It is best to consult with a personal trainer to be shown correct form and exercise.
Strengthening the Calves has an added benefit of manually pumping blood back to the heart, which is another reason why walking is very beneficial. The Soleus muscle is known as the secondary “heart”, which is directly under the Gastrocnemius muscle, together they primarily form the “Calf” muscle.
Good posture helps to keep the body in alignment allowing the body to function at its best. That being said, recent studies suggest that good posture is also due to changing posture by not staying in one position too long and to get up once per hour to stretch.
Best in Health,