Injuries, Tightness & Pain
Everyone at some point will suffer from tightness and pain, unfortunately this tends to only get worse as we age.
One very important point to remember is that both tightness and pain are symptoms and that to resolve symptoms, you need to treat the underlying issue and not the symptoms themselves. Might sound obvious to some, but the reason I bring this up is that I see so many people trying to self-manage injuries, using methods that will never work. People will stretch a muscle that feels tight and use painkillers to get through training sessions, this is just treating the symptoms and will likely fail in the long run.
Let’s use a common example and say that you have tight hamstrings.
Now if this is a one-off situation, then it’s likely that you have just trained your legs or done some sort of activity that fatigued your hamstrings. In this case then sure foam rolling or some light stretching can resolve the issue quicker and would be a good tactic to use.
However, if your hamstrings are chronically tight or causing pain you have to understand, that to resolve this it is not a simple matter of stretching your hamstrings every day. In some cases, such as an anterior tilted hip this will make the issue worse. As much as I enjoy the likes of yoga, it is not the answer to all your problems.
So what is the answer? Obviously this is a very tricky subject as there are infinite combinations of injuries and ways to treat them, but one important concept to understand is that tightness and pain are often caused by instability.
A very common example of why people get chronically tight hamstrings is due to excessive sitting and developing weak glutes in the process. When one muscle becomes weak the adjacent muscles have to overcompensate and take on more tension or at the very least become tighter to reduce the range of motion at the joint so that the instability is less pronounced. In this case the person would be far better off spending 10 minutes a day doing exercises that strengthen the glutes as opposed to 10 minutes of stretching the hamstrings.
Stronger glutes and sitting less = treating the underlying issue = GOOD
Stretching = treating the symptom = BAD
The point of this post was to help people understand that often fixing an injury is only possible by strengthening a weakness or correcting an instability, and usually not by stretching the muscle causing pain.
If you do have an injury or just signs of tightness and pain, I would highly recommend seeking out an expert in the field. At the very least do some research on your symptoms and see if there are protocols out there to help the underlying issue.
The worst thing you can do is to just haphazardly stretch and foam roll the sore area as you could be doing more damage.
Do you have any tightness or pain yourself?