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Should You Stretch It If It Feels Tight?

“Coach, my (insert muscle here) feels tight. What can I do to stretch it?”

This is a question we hear often in the gym. We get it, something doesn’t feel good, and you want it to feel better. But the truth is, stretching isn’t always the answer for muscles that feel “tight”. In fact, it might be the exact opposite of what you need!

Often, people who are hypermobile feel “tight” because they lack stability, motor control, and/or strength at that joint. A lot of times, “tightness” is a protective mechanism for these people because they are so mobile that any more “looseness” might put them in harmful ranges of motion.

This is just one example. Another example is someone who has a strength imbalance at a joint. Let’s say this person can squat a lot more than they can deadlift. The muscles on the anterior (front) of the body are stronger in relation to the muscles on the posterior (back) of the body. Because of this, the muscle on the front act more strongly on the hip than the muscle on the back, making the muscle of the back side constantly over-stretched. Over stretched muscles feel tight! Think about what happens when you stretch a rubber band to its max. It literally gets longer and tighter. This is what’s happening to the muscles like your hamstrings, glutes, and muscle of the low back.

The answer to both these problems is not stretching! If you were to stretch the hypermobile person, you’d be wasting time because they are already plenty flexible. They need strength! And the person with a strength imbalance would be stretching muscles that are already over stretched! They need to address strength balance!

So, when something feels “tight” don’t jump the gun and start stretching. You may need strength, motor control, or stability somewhere else. The key to correcting your problem is to be assessed.

Do you constantly feel “tight”? If so it’s best to contact a coach and set up your free assessment.

Email us at yankeecrossfit@gmail.com or talk to a coach in class to set up a time to get assessed.