Stiff and tight? Your body is telling you something and it's probably not what you expect.
Updated: May 16, 2018
We have been asked to give some guidance to a keen runner who is experiencing some feelings of tightness and stiffness after runs. With the fun-run season heating up here on the East coast of Australia we though we’d share this information. The following blog will firstly give some education followed by our recommendations. Feeling of stiffness and tightness is often a cry for help from stressed tissues. These tissues may be stressed due to capacity overload or reduced capacity to meet the load. 1. Capacity overload If we do too much, too soon and don’t allow our bodies to adapt to the loads we are putting them through then tissues will begin to get irritated. This is often felt as tightness and stiffness as mentioned above but many different sensations may be felt. If we do not listen to our bodies then pain and injury is likely to follow. So how do we fix this problem?
Reduce the load
Adjusting technique such as stride length and frequency in a runner
Reducing the amount of Km’s ran per week.
Consider the surface or footwear that we are using – Grass Vs concrete, minimal Vs maximal footwear for runners.
Assessing for potential gait asy
mmetries that could be contributing to the problem.
Increase the tissues ability to tolerate greater loads
Strength training to build up resilience of tissues is the best option here.
2. Reduced capacity to meet the load If a joint or muscle is working sub-optimally such as in a reduced range of motion then it will need to work harder to meet to load. This can result in again irritation and of the problem is not resolved then injury may result. The mechanism of injury is the same as above but the reason for why we get there is different. So how do we fix this problem?
Maintain optimal capacity
Full joint range of motion is the main culprit here. So we need to ensure that we have a good mobility routine. This can be through resistance training using full range of motion at joints or a separate mobility / stretching routine.
Below is a short video that will help to maintain full joint range of motion, reduce negative neurological facilitation of muscles and improve positive neurological facilitation specifically for distance runners but also desk workers. If you don’t have full motion to begin with this may not fix you but it will prevent it from getting worse. We do however suggest you get a full assessment to see if you need more individually guided therapy to get you performing optimally.
Video Summary:Exercise 1: Split squat
Take a long stance. As you lower down allow yourself to travel forward while maintaining good trunk position. This will maintain good dorsiflexion range of motion at the ankle and also in the hip of the back leg. In the back leg you may feel a stretch as the hip is taken into full extension, this is good but shouldn’t be painful. Ensure that your lower back does not hyperextend.
Repeat each side 10 times, slow and controlled
Exercise 2: Marching bridges
Keep your hips as high and extended as possible without over arching through your lumbar spine.
March each leg to get good activation in the posterior chain especially the gluteals which will help to reduce over facilitation of the hip flexors and might even help develop some more power to help you up those hills.
Perform 20 marches
Exercise 3: Hamstring walk-out’s
Similar to the bridge raise up and maintain a high hip positon
Taking small steps walk your feet out and then back in.
Slow and controlled.
This will assist your posterior chain especially the hamstrings to help reduce any irritation and injury risk there.
Perform 10 walk out’s.
Good luck! Get in touch if you have questions on this topic or would like another topic answered.