Why Are My Muscles Stiff? The Common Causes of Tight, Sore Muscles

Why Are My Muscles Stiff? The Common Causes of Tight, Sore Muscles

March 15, 2019|By Eric Owens|No Comments »
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After an intense workout or laying in bed all day or sitting at your desk at work, you may have felt stiff and sore, but do you know why?

The answer can be very complex, but I will try to keep it as simple as possible. There are many mechanisms behind the workings of muscles. Fascial tissues have a major impact on these mechanisms. When we talk about muscles, we must emphasize the role that fascia plays in impacting the movement of muscles.

Muscles permit movement in the body, help maintain posture, stabilize our joints, and assist with blood circulation. The fascia in our body surrounds muscles tissue, provides stability, establishes muscle efficiency, and is a major pathway for communication of various internal systems. The two combined make for an intelligent network that allows us to move in space however we choose.

Muscle and Fascial Tissues

Let’s begin by going a little deeper into the topic of muscles. Muscles work like pistons with two filaments that slide over each other. With the proper nutrients, oxygen, hydration and stimulus, the muscle can contract with an amazing amount of force. The more pliable a muscle, the more force it can generate. For example, if you put a quarter on a balloon that has filled up halfway with air, still soft & pliable, and forcefully squeeze the sides, the quarter will be pushed high up into the air. If that same balloon was filled all the way so that it’s stiff, that same quarter won’t move much if at all.

Without the proper input the muscle can’t function at 100% efficiency. Some of the reasons a muscle doesn’t receive the proper input include an improper diet, poor hydration, and the lack of stimuli. The inefficiency of a muscle determines how that muscle is used, which fibers are activated, and how that leads to changes that can cause a domino effect of problems. This is where the fascial network plays a major role in influencing these changes.

The fascial network and its role are extremely fascinating. Fascia can be found from head to toe and has pathways that connect from head to toe. There are many different pathways that connect different parts of the body. These pathways have a direct impact on how the body is aligned, your posture, your gait, and where tension is located throughout the body.

Bringing our attention back to the effect of fascia on muscles, we have found a direct correlation between fascia and muscle stiffness/soreness. Healthy fascia is organized in a net-like, diamond lattice structure that functions as a spring. This gives a muscle the proper recoil it needs to contract and expand. During times of underuse or overuse of a muscle, this structure becomes disorganized, creating tension between muscle fibers. The result of disorganization of the structure is a lack of recoil and the muscle’s inability to fully expand.

The Buildup of Collagen and Muscle Tightness

So how does this lead to stiffness and soreness? The muscle’s inability to fully contract and expand leads to less generated force in a muscle contraction. The body likes to stay as efficient as possible using as few resources as possible. When muscle fibers begin to lose their efficiency, the body recruits the most efficient fibers to contract the muscle.

The body determines which muscle fibers to activate by processing the information it receives from the fascia network. The fascia relays information about the status of each muscle fiber, letting the brain know which fibers can contract and relax. The fastest way to target particular fibers is by laying down collagen as a direct connection to that muscle fiber, bypassing the unusable fibers. This new collagen is woven in between the muscle fibers which creates tension.

The body is efficient, so much so that it continues to lay down collagen to stay consistent. The problem arises when this excess collagen is stacked in multiple layers forcing fibers to scrunch up against each other, creating a glue-like bond. THIS is what we call stiffness or tightness. Stiffness is the binding of muscle fibers leading to their inability to stretch and/or contract. This is what decreases your range of motion during workouts and other activities. Being stiff dramatically decreases performance and can lead to structural issues if not addressed quickly or properly.

Myofibril Tears and Muscle Soreness

Now, what about being sore? Muscle soreness after a new workout or an excessive workout is caused by myofibril tears. Myofibril tears are tiny tears in muscle tissue after extreme stress is placed on the fibers, which creates an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response is good because it is repairing the tears. During this inflammation response, there is a build-up of acids and metabolic waste in the blood.

Sometimes this soreness can be felt at rest, but usually it is felt when moving the affected muscles. The binding of muscle fibers leads to compromised circulatory and lymphatic systems, which slows down elimination. As elimination slows down, the acids and waste continue to build up, irritating the surrounding tissues as this waste is forced out of the cells. This is why it hurts to push into a muscle when it is sore.

Restoring Pliability with Precise Pressure

Although stiffness and soreness seem like a horrible process to experience, they are natural and normal. Stiffness and excessive soreness can both be prevented and reversed. Movement and exercise is a good way to reorient the diamond lattice structure. The most effective way we know how to do this is with multi-directional, precise pressure into the muscle tissue to restructure damaged tissue.

The restructuring of damaged tissue will allow fascia to regain its recoil and muscle fibers to be unbound. Once muscles are restructured, pliability is restored. Pliability allows for a muscle to function at a higher efficiency due to full contraction and expansion. The amount of pliable muscle tissue a person has will determine the amount of muscle tissue that can activate and contract. At Delos, our focus is to restore pliability, which in turn will increase performance, decrease stiffness, and decrease pain.

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