What you need to know: Many healthcare providers and trainers poorly understand why someone 'feels tight'. Dealing with muscle tightness is not as simple as just stretching.
The human body is designed to move and movement requires varying amounts of stability and motion. When movement occurs, patterns of stability and motion can occur in efficient or inefficient ways. As structures accommodate movement, the load placed on everything from joints to muscles and tendons to nerves changes and these changes can produce symptoms. In the process of wanting to avoid symptoms, the body will often develop compensation patterns. A common result of this compensation process is the feeling of being 'tight' or 'tension'. This tension serves a protective role, thus it is referred to as protective tension.
The development of protective tension and the reason behind its presentation is one of the least understood mechanisms in musculoskeletal care. The body is smart enough to constantly monitor loads and prevent excessive load of any given structure to ultimately help prevent injury. If you are feeling 'tight', there is a reason and your body is sending you a signal. However, many people will ignore this signal until more pressing issues develop, such as pain. So how does one handle a muscle that 'feels tight'? Unfortunately, the solution is not as simple as just stretching. Stretching often provides temporary relief because of underlying joint dysfunction, stability and/or mobility deficits, or muscular weaknesses that need addressed.
This one is for those dealing with foot pain, calf pain, Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, or maybe your running/sprint form needs a ground-up makeover. Whether it’s pain or performance issues residing in the lower body, if the foot isn’t working properly, the hip can’t do its job properly.
Most people get too nervous about pronation of the foot and internal rotation of leg and hip, as if these are bad things. Reality is when it comes to gait, extension -internal rotation-pronation are paired together. What do athletes and runners covet? Powerful and efficient triple extension as this is our gas pedal for propelling us over ground. But guess what, if you lack adequate pronation and internal rotation of the foot/leg/hip, you’re not going to get much in regards to extension. This is especially true of those with high arches of the feet or hip dysplasia. Often you’ll see these conditions together.
Enter the exercise progression in the video series. We need to re-educate the foot-Achilles-calf complex to work as a system.
1️⃣The focus in adequate pronation as this properly loads the plantar fascia and locks the foot for efficient load transfer. This will help to properly mobilize the foot. Likely they also need good manual therapy to restore normal mechanics.
2️⃣Then the focus goes to proper loading of the foot through the big toe for extension. This is critical because if you can’t access the big toe, you can’t fully access hip extension and the glute musculature. These athletes will short their gait and force inefficient compensations as they are over-reliant on their feet.
3️⃣ideal torso alignment and abdominal pressurization is reinforced. If patients or athletes aren’t able to perform these simple exercises with efficiency, they likely have spinal/pelvic stability issues that need addressed first.
Thank you Michal Truc for these golden bullets from the DNS course in Sweden as these same principles apply to the skating stride for efficient mechanics.
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Neck pain can be quite common in MMA, grappling sports, and wresting. A big reason can be simply over reliance on the neck and inefficiency of the extensor system and trunk stabilizers.
Once an athlete learns to improve how their body works as a system, tissue and joint stress reduce and performance efficiency will be almost immediately noticed. Especially if they have keen body awareness.
Often times when there is a strength problem, the recommendation is to isolate that area and train it. In this case, the thinking was to strengthen the neck by using a neck harness. Now while local tissue strength and resilience is absolutely important, the problem in this case is that solving what can be perceived as a "lack of strength issue" isn't always solved by isolation training.
This athlete needed to learn to use his body as a complete system to better support his neck and enable him to express the strength that he already has. His over reliance on the neck was causing accumulation of stress on the neck, leading to his neck feeling pretty jacked up week after week of grappling.
Neck pain and tightness was become a recurrent issue for him. He was developing a pattern of having to take time off every couple weeks because his neck just couldn't handle the stress anymore. Rest did enough to reduce the presence of symptoms such as tightness and pain, but rest isn't doing anything to solve the underlying problem that is feeding his pain - lack of awareness of how to use his body as a system to reduce neck pain and improve performance. If an athlete is never taught how to efficiency use their body, then there will be breakdowns in the system at some point.
Avoid the breakdowns as best as possible by developing keen body awareness and how to use the body as system, not as isolated parts.
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