Fix Your Squat: Why Are My Muscles Always So Tight?
Why Are My Muscles Always So Tight?
All too often we have people come into clinic and say. ” Why are my muscles are so tight, I’m just not very flexible, I need to stretch more often”. How would you feel if we told you stretching is over-rated and your tightness issues come from a lack of stability and a lack of ability to control your range of motion? CRAZY, I hear you say. Yes it can be the first time you hear it, but i’m telling you, if you introduced a little more stability in your life, I bet a heap of your mobility issues would clear up. If you don’t believe me give this simple test a try:
- Lay on Your Back
- Keeping your knees straight and toes pointed back toward your head, lift up your leg as high as you can.
- Take note of how high it gets (and how hard it feels to get there).
Now Repeat the same exercises this time pressing the hands into the ground as hard as you can.
I bet when you pressed the hands into the ground it felt easier, and you probably were able to lift the leg up a little (or a lot) higher. “What is this magic trick you have just given me”? It’s no magic trick, it’s making use of your bodies natural instincts. The way it was meant to be used. By pressing the hands into the ground, you are subconsciously getting your brain to engage your core. When the core is engaged, your lower back feels protected and it takes the brakes off your hamstrings, and allows them to move through their full range of motion.
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Thats Cool And All, But How Does That Help Me With My Squat:
So the same reflexes and responses occur with all your movements, not just your tight hamstrings. So by mobilising your ankles and hips in the previous weeks, you should now have a bit of faith that maybe you aren’t just stiff and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Now that you know how to mobilises the necessary areas before your squat. The final piece of the puzzle is to create stability in your squat and help your brain to take the breaks off your range of motion.
So How Do I Create Stability In My Squat?
We are going to trick you into creating more tension in your trunk by taking pressure off those tight areas when you squat. Ease into the squat by lowering yourself down holding a squat rack or a door frame. This will decrease the strength demands you are placing on your posterior chain mucles (Calves, Hamstrings, Glutes, Lower back muscles). Once these muscles are feeling confident they can handle the load, your brains will slowly release the brakes off of them and let you get a little deeper into your squat.
I Can Squat Deeper Now, But How Do I Do It Without Holding Onto Something?
Easy, now you just have to play around with a little weight. I love the Goblet squat because most people are anterior chain dominant in a squat. Where do you normally get tight after squatting? More than likely you pointed to the front of your thighs, on top of your knees and into the groin area. Bingo, these are your anterior chain muscles (Quads, and Adductors for those playing along at home).
This usually means a front squat will feel easier or better, then a back squat (providing you have the proper mobility in shoulders, wrist, elbows). The goblet squat starts off with the weight on your chest. Which will help you engage your trunk (core) more and cause you to sit back in the hips to counterbalance the weight at the front.
The Goblet Squat:
- Start with the weight on your chest.
- Press the weight out in front of you as you push the bum back.
- If you co-ordinate this properly you should be in the bottom of your squat as you finish pushing the weight out in front of you.
- Pause for 1 sec and take a breathe
- Slowly bring the weight in towards the chest slowly.
- Stop when you begin to feel your torso tip forward.
- Stand back up
- Repeat the process bringing the weight a little closer to the chest each time, or until you can bring the weight to your chest without tipping forward.
So Now I Know: Why Are My Muscles Are So Tight Whats Next?:
So to wrap things up with a nice little bow on top:
- Your muscles are constantly tight because you lack stability when using them
- Improve your stability and you improve your squat
- Do this by gradually loading the tissues without overloading them (assisted squats)
- Then get your midsection to pull it weight when squatting (goblet squat)
And then . . . Why not work on some of the other fundamental movement patterns.
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