Have you got lower back or knee pain? If you have been injured then you should have been to a doctor or physiotherapist to discuss treatment and resolve the issue.
However many write it off as an injury without examination when in reality their muscles are too tight to move correctly. Most people just say “it’s been like this for ages”, “I must have puled it at some point”, “it’s just age”. They write this off as a pull or a tear (it seems we are becoming very good at self diagnosis these days), or that squats or deadlifts were the cause. THESE LIFTS DO NOT HURT YOU. Doing them in-correctly will hurt you, lifting too heavy will hurt you and trying to force tight muscles to stretch while bearing heavy weights will hurts you.
But why not do something about it, in fact the solution is simple and free – Stretch and Foam Roll. You can even splash out on a Sports Massage and assess where you are tight.If you are tight you will not move to your full ability. This can lead to further tightness and your body will find a different way to create the movement you are forcing. If your legs and hips are tight then your back will take the brunt to create the movement, this will lead to pain.
So how do we resolve this issue and get rid of the pain?Well the two areas to focus on will be TIGHT MUSCLES and WEAK MUSCLES.
If an area is tight then range of motion will come from another area to compensate. If a muscle is weak it will rely on another muscle group to perform. Areas of tightness are often promoted by areas of weakness so lets look further into the main offenders.
HIP FLEXORS + WEAK CORE
What are the hip flexors? They are a group of muscles around the top of your thighs that connect your upper leg to your hip and as the name suggest create “flexion” in the hip.That lower back pain you have after sitting all day at work and the burning shins you feel after a run may all be traced back to having tight hip flexors and a weak core. If your core muscles are weak then your hip flexors will try and pick up the slack. Any muscle that isn’t working will rely on another to perform the action leading to issues. These muscles are used in many movements from squat and deadlifts to bench press and military press. Ever wondered why you get a sore back from bench pressing? Yes tightness of the hips can cause back pain when benching. So what are the other offenders?
THE QUADRICEPS + GLUTES
Your quadriceps are the muscles located on the front of your thigh. There are four of them as the name suggests and if some of these muscles are tight or under developed it will cause an imbalance to the group. This can lead to pain of the knee or hips and causes issues/pain in sports and movement. By pulling the pelvis down into what is know as Anterior Pelvis Tilt (ATP), tight quadriceps can lead to painful lower back muscles while also contributing to weakness in the hamstrings by the quadriceps overuse.
There a number of reasons why you can become tight, generally it seems it is a combination of a few things:
SITTING TOO LONG
STANDING TOO LONG
WEAKNESS OF A MUSCLE GROUP
TIGHTNESS OF A MUSCLE GROUP
All of these will lead towards tightness, pain and eventually injury. BUT you can easily change this by doing the following:
VARY YOUR POSITONS – Sitting gets the blame for issues with tightness and mobility problems when it is really any position that is adopted for long periods of time. As most of us sit for most of the day, sitting has become a demon when it comes to mobility problems. Try not to stay in one position for a long period, split this up by moving positions and postures and maybe even include stretching into your daily routine.
STRETCH + FOAM ROLL – If you do not stretch or foam roll currently then start doing so now. Ask advice as many people foam roll like they’re trying to roll pastry. It’s your body, be gentle and gradually build up the weight you apply. Focus on an area and stop trying to roll the whole muscle in one go. Where stretching is involved the same principle applies, do not over stretch. If your muscles are tight you’re not going to loosen them in one go it will take time just like your training. And just like your training if you want to make progress you will need to keep it up regularly.
STRENGTHEN WEAK MUSCLES – The core and the glutes being the main areas focus. Strength does not mean you are going to bombard the muscle with weight and repetitions. It means you are going to focus on these areas during exercise and make sure you are engaging them correctly. We will go into Glute and core exercises and strengthening programmes later this month but exercise like Ab Roll Outs and Diaphragmatic breathing drills will help ensure you are engaging the core and creating tension when lifting.
MASSAGE – Sports massage can help massively, especially to get you loosened up and focusing on the correct areas to stretch. A sport massage therapist can tell you which muscles are tight, what issues that will have on your movement and give you an idea of how to start fixing this. Contact us to discuss Sports Massage further.