Mechanical vs Neurological Tightness

Muscle tightness can be caused from a mechanical shortness or a neurological perception of tightness.  Hamstrings are a great example of the difference between mechanical or neurological tightness.  To test hamstring tightness, lay on your back, if you can raise a straight leg to 80-90 degrees, you do not have mechanical tightness.  If you cannot raise your leg that high, then a stretching routine and soft tissue massage can help lengthen mechanically short hamstrings.
If you can raise your leg 80-90 degrees, but still feel a tightness, this may be due to overly lengthened muscles.  Muscles that are overly stretched can also feel tight.  Tension in overly lengthened muscles is a protection tactic to prevent strains or tears.  This is called neurological tightness.
Neurological tightness is frequently caused by a muscle imbalance in which excessive pelvic tilt lengthens the hamstrings and keeps the hip flexors shortened.
To correct neurological tightness in the hamstrings, don’t stretch the hamstrings.  Instead focus on stretching the hip flexors and strengthening the glutes.  Stretching after periods of prolonged sitting is especially helpful.
If you have questions or would like a specialized routine, call 410.381.1574 or email us to schedule an appointment.
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