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Muscle Tightness - It's a Good Thing? (Read 245 times)

Julia1971


    I've been getting sports massage to work out the soreness in my legs and hopefully make them more flexible.  During my last session, the masseuse advised me not to let anyone work all the tightness out of hamstrings if I'm going to be doing a lot of speed work.  He mentioned some U. of Arizona study where athletes that got massage ended up running slower.  (That's what I heard, I'm sure he used more impressive words).  Edited to add: it might have been swimmers rather than runners.  I really should pay more attention to people when they're talking.

     

    Has anyone heard of this idea?  What do you think about it?  My pals in the Marathoner Dailies found this Running Times article about muscle tension that seems to give some credence to the idea.  It piqued my interest mostly because I got a hamstring injury out of the blue during the taper of my last marathon.  Rather than draw the obvious conclusions that it might have been over-training, stepping off a curb in a bad way, or too many down- or uphills, I'm thinking of blaming it on too much stretching so I can go back to never stretching.  Smile

    The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. – Chinese Proverb

      Keeping in mind that we are all an experiment of one....

       

      I stopped stretching a little less than a year ago.  I have not noticed any difference in my running or my (lack of) flexibility.

      Longboat


      Letting off steam

        I think Magness is right on the mark (as usual).

         

        As far as massaging all the tension out, it's the same principle as not doing static stretches before running -- which has a similar negative effect on ability to run fast.

        Neil

        ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        Nearly back to 100% 6 months after Achilles surgery. Now at 35 50 mpw.

        Base building time!

        MJ5


        Chief Unicorn Officer

          I definitely feel slower after a massage, so if I have one scheduled the week of a race or less than three days before an intense workout, I have my guy leave my legs alone. I hate the feeling of jelly legs when I'm trying to run fast! Maybe it's something like a metal spring, without that tension there's no extra spring and propulsion.

          Mile 5:49 - 5K 19:58 - 10K 43:06 - HM 1:36:54

            Keeping in mind that we are all an experiment of one....

             

            I stopped stretching a little less than a year ago.  I have not noticed any difference in my running or my (lack of) flexibility.

             

            I stopped early last year with all static stretching. And it was my best year ever.

            Anyway, I can't find any logic to it: Why would holding a given position for 30 seconds be of any use as training or to induce an adaptation to muscles and tendons? Why does it happen specifically when we decide to stretch and not during weight training or running itself?

            And even if they really work en make you more flexible: What good is flexibility for a runner?


            Feeling the growl again

              I think there is a pretty good body of evidence coming together now to show that, within reason, tight muscles are a good thing for running.

               

              As with most things, this is within reason.  There IS such a thing as too tight.  I, like much of the American population, work a desk job and have hip-flexors which are over-tight.  Over the last several years this has become an increasing problem.  It has ruined my posture and caused lower back pain as my pelvis has tilted forward.  For the past 6 months it has ruined my running and with corrective action I am only now getting to where I can run consistently again.  Now I stretch my hip flexors religiously, 2X5min per side each night.

              "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

               

                I think there is a pretty good body of evidence coming together now to show that, within reason, tight muscles are a good thing for running.

                 

                As with most things, this is within reason.  There IS such a thing as too tight.  I, like much of the American population, work a desk job and have hip-flexors which are over-tight.  Over the last several years this has become an increasing problem.  It has ruined my posture and caused lower back pain as my pelvis has tilted forward.  For the past 6 months it has ruined my running and with corrective action I am only now getting to where I can run consistently again.  Now I stretch my hip flexors religiously, 2X5min per side each night.

                Yeah, same here. I have a desk job and try to err on the side of keeping things flexible.  I am also paying more attention to getting up more during the day.

                 

                I have had some tightness in my hamstrings (recently building back to a semblance of my former training and doing more leg strength).  I do think there has been some pulling on my knee and associated irritation.  I am going to make an effort to get to the massage table.

                 

                For my part, Julia, I think stretching post-run is important.  I think this is a study similar to the one your therapist mentioned.  

                 

                A better choice, he continued, is to warm-up dynamically, by moving the muscles that will be called upon in your workout. Jumping jacks and toy-soldier-like high leg kicks, for instance, prepare muscles for additional exercise better than stretching. As an unscientific side benefit, they can also be fun. Click.

                 

                Here is a really good video on the dynamic warmup.

                "If you have the fire, run..." -John Climacus

                  Now I stretch my hip flexors religiously, 2X5min per side each night.

                   

                  Do you do the standard lunge-ish hip flexor stretch or something else/additional?  How did you decide on 5 minutes?  PT?  Do you find that the long stretch period makes a difference over, say, a minute or 90 seconds?

                  northernman


                  Fight The Future

                    I have always eschewed stretching as a waste of time, but I'm now coming around to the opposite conclusion. Definitely I find that doing achilles stretches has dramatically improved my PF. And as Spaniel says, I can feel my hip flexors being limiting in terms of getting good leg/butt extension at faster paces. In Jan Dicharry's book Anatomy for Runners, he claims that simple stretching of muscles is not particularly effective, but instead it is better to push items, like thumbs or lacrosse balls, into various parts of the muscles to free up the adhesions and improve flexibility. Makes sense, but I find it's not the most comfortable process in the world, especially for the hip.

                      I think there is something in what Magness is saying, but I don't have the mental energy to be scientific about it.  I stretch informally in the shower after my runs, and at random times during the day, whenever it feels like a good idea.

                      Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.

                      Julia1971


                        Yeah, my massage guy did a lot of pressing into my hips and psoas. What was weird was that one side (the right, I think), hurt much more than the other.

                         

                        Might have to check out this Anatomy for Runners book...

                         

                        I have always eschewed stretching as a waste of time, but I'm now coming around to the opposite conclusion. Definitely I find that doing achilles stretches has dramatically improved my PF. And as Spaniel says, I can feel my hip flexors being limiting in terms of getting good leg/butt extension at faster paces. In Jan Dicharry's book Anatomy for Runners, he claims that simple stretching of muscles is not particularly effective, but instead it is better to push items, like thumbs or lacrosse balls, into various parts of the muscles to free up the adhesions and improve flexibility. Makes sense, but I find it's not the most comfortable process in the world, especially for the hip.

                        The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. – Chinese Proverb

                          I have always eschewed stretching as a waste of time, but I'm now coming around to the opposite conclusion. Definitely I find that doing achilles stretches has dramatically improved my PF. And as Spaniel says, I can feel my hip flexors being limiting in terms of getting good leg/butt extension at faster paces. In Jan Dicharry's book Anatomy for Runners, he claims that simple stretching of muscles is not particularly effective, but instead it is better to push items, like thumbs or lacrosse balls, into various parts of the muscles to free up the adhesions and improve flexibility. Makes sense, but I find it's not the most comfortable process in the world, especially for the hip.

                           

                          or screw driver handles.

                          "If you have the fire, run..." -John Climacus


                          Feeling the growl again

                            I have always eschewed stretching as a waste of time, but I'm now coming around to the opposite conclusion. Definitely I find that doing achilles stretches has dramatically improved my PF. And as Spaniel says, I can feel my hip flexors being limiting in terms of getting good leg/butt extension at faster paces. In Jan Dicharry's book Anatomy for Runners, he claims that simple stretching of muscles is not particularly effective, but instead it is better to push items, like thumbs or lacrosse balls, into various parts of the muscles to free up the adhesions and improve flexibility. Makes sense, but I find it's not the most comfortable process in the world, especially for the hip.

                             

                            He claims that short, 15-30sec stretches like most people do is not effective.  He prescribes holding the stretch for like 5 minutes in order to get permanent elongation of the muscle over time.  In addition to breaking up adhesions; not all muscles are going to be tight due to adhesions.

                            "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand