Chiropractic Care for Tightness and Stiffness: Chiropractic Plus Newcastle, NSWJune 5, 2018 12:30 pm
Tightness and stiffness might sound like the same thing, but they are not. The feeling of tightness relates to the body’s muscular system. When a muscle feels tight, often we try to remedy that by stretching or massaging it. More often than not, the tightness remains, but why? A muscle is what’s known as an ‘end organ’, which means it does what it’s told. If the nerves controlling that muscle aren’t sending the right signals, then the muscle won’t function as it’s supposed to and will stay tight despite massages or stretching.
Stiffness, on the other hand, is a concept referring to the joints in the body. Stiff joints are usually the result of insufficient movement or age related wear and tear. Because each joint in the body is connected, if you are experiencing stiffness in a joint you will most likely also experience increased movement or hypermobility in the surrounding joints. This is caused by the joints connected to stiff joint trying to compensate for the latter’s lack of movement. Hypermobility can cause further problems, with imbalanced wear and tear on the overactive joints.
What are the causes of tightness and stiffness? There are many contributing factors; here are the five main causes of nerve damage which can result in stiff joints and tight muscles:
- Posture. Poor posture can be a major contributor to nerve damage. Poor posture is usually a product of an existing muscle imbalance or simply poor habits. It can also be attained if you are seated for long periods of time, as sitting escalates the pressure on the discs in the lower back. Poor posture can also contribute pain to our lower back, neck, arms and legs.
- Less movement. Our muscular and skeletal systems were meant for dynamic movement and not to stay static for long periods of time. The less we move the more lactic acids our body will produce and this can cause stiff joints or tight muscles. Regular exercise and even small movements like standing up or stretching throughout the day can help prevent this. The best time to stretch our muscles is actually during a period of inactivity and for a minimum of 30 seconds per stretch.
- Trauma. Also known as a whiplash; it is not just caused by car accidents, but any sudden movement of the head backwards, forwards or sideways. Trauma can trigger a misalignment of the spine and consequently through the connecting nervous system, tightness or stiffness.
- Overuse or Repetitive Strain Injuries. The more we ignore the pain signals our body is sending us, the more the damage escalates. Repetitive strain injuries can not only damage your muscular and skeletal systems but also your nervous system, resulting in reduction or even loss of movement in the affected area.
- Sleeping Positions. Poor sleeping habits can cause you to wake up with tight muscles or stiff joints. When you are asleep, your body is staying static for approximately 8 hours and if your spine is in an awkward or unnatural position during that entire time, the spinal nerves will not function properly.
The majority of adults can relate to at least one of these causes. The good news is that pain, stiffness and tightness can be easily remedied once you are aware of the cause of your symptoms. Correct your posture, stay active and turn Netflix off before you fall asleep in the armchair again.
At Chiropractic Plus, your spine is our priority because a healthy spine begets a healthy life.