Tension is intelligent
When we feel tight muscles, our normal instinct is to stretch or seek treatment. We think of the tightness, or tension, as being bad - something to be removed from our body.
The funny thing is, the tension we feel tends to have some sense behind it. After all, if your muscle feels tight, then it means your brain is telling the muscle to tighten. The muscle hasn’t gone rogue and defected - it’s just doing what the brain tells it.
So why is your brain telling your muscle to tighten? And why won’t the muscle relax when you stretch it?
It all comes down to stability.
The muscle and fascia in your body can be separated into two groups. You have deep core muscles that keep the weight of your body stable. And you have superficial muscles, that are responsible for moving your body around.
In an ideal world, deep core muscles are strong and active, keeping our posture upright and stable. This allows superficial muscles to relax until they have a job to do.
Unfortunately, many of us have underactive core muscles, because we live sedentary lives. Even if we’re into sport, we can end up out of balance. When deep muscles become weak, our posture starts to shift out of alignment and our body becomes less stable. This forces our superficial muscles to become overactive, to help support the weight of the body. If muscles are overactive for too long, it can cause pain and inflammation.
This overactivity is the tightness that we feel, and seek to get rid of. But it’s not there by mistake. Your body is basically prioritising stability, over comfort. That’s why stretching, treating and restIng, often don’t work long term. Until you restore muscular balance, the overworking muscles will keep complaining.
Whenever you feel unpleasant tension, rather than get annoyed, get curious. What’s not working? What’s over working? Always try to remember, that tension is intelligent. It puts you on the same team as your body, rather than fighting against it.