Muscle tightness is a common side effect of exercise. There are many different things that can cause muscles to tighten, including failure to stretch beforehand, muscular imbalances and poor posture. All of these causes can be easily treated by making small changes to your workout routine.
Stretching is one of the easiest ways to prevent muscle tightness after a workout. A 2009 study by A.P. Marques found that stretching three times a week was sufficient to improve flexibility and range of motion as compared to subjects who stretched once per week. Another great way to improve flexibility is to add yoga into your workout schedule. Yoga has been shown to improve spinal flexibility.
The abdominal and low back muscles work together to maintain your core strength. Many people tend to overwork the abdominal muscles and underwork the low back muscles. When these muscles are not equally worked, it creates a muscle imbalance around the pelvis and cause tightness in the low back. Poor lifting technique and bad posture can also lead to muscular imbalances.
Myofascial Trigger Points
Myofascial trigger points are hyper-irritable tender points in your muscles. They form from acute trauma and repetitive microtrauma -- small tears in the muscle fibers from constantly performing the same action or exercise -- and can cause persistent localized pain and decreased range of motion. This can be prevented by making sure you get enough rest between workouts and don't overwork muscle groups.
Use hot packs on the affected area to increase circulation and improve range of motion. Topical pain relievers may also provide relief. Manual therapists such as massage therapists, chiropractors and physical therapists may also be able to help with your muscle tightness. Always consult with your physician before beginning a new exercise regimen or trying any treatment option.
- Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research: Effect of Frequency of Static Stretching on Flexibility, Hamstring Tightness and Electromyographic Activity
- International Journal of Yoga: Effect of Yoga on Quality of Life of CLBP Patients: A Randomized Control Study
- British Journal of Sports Medicine: Abdominal Muscle Training in Sport
- American Family Physician: Trigger Points: Diagnosis and Management