To a large extent muscle tightness comes from muscle weakness. Muscles become tight to protect the body from injury. When the body identifies a weakness or instability in and around a joint the body will tighten up to prevent injury.
This raises the following question. Should you stretch went you’re tight or should you strengthen the body? Most people think you should stretch a muscle if it is tight, but why is a muscle tight in the first place? Stretching it will make it temporarily more flexible but now you have flexibility without strength or stability. Moving into positions that you have no strength in doesn’t sound like a good idea but that is exactly what most people do.
The main reason why people lose flexibility when they get older is because they are getting weaker. The weakness is what is making them tighten up. I would rather start someone out in a strength training program to increase their flexibility as opposed to a stretching program. I have seen it first hand; as soon as someone gets stronger they move better, have more balance and are definitely more flexible.
When you’re performing strength training movements you’re increasing your flexibility at the same time as building strength. For example, if you’re doing an arm curl (bicep curl), you are contracting and shortening your biceps but at the same time you are lengthening the antagonistic muscle of your triceps or there would be no movement. When curling a weight you’re making your biceps stronger while making your triceps more flexible. If you just stretch your triceps to make them more flexible without the strong biceps that are suppose to come along with the increase in flexibility you could be risking an elbow injury by allowing your arm to flex into a position of instability.
What I want you to take away from this article is flexibility without stability is dangerous. Any position you put your body into should be strong and stable. If you are tight, try to figure out where you are weak and strengthen that area. In addition, there are also safe ways to stretch like active stretching which is actually strength training. Check out this video I did on Safe Stretching.
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Best – Mike Cola