exercise miscellaneous recovery rest

Is Your Body Trying to Speak to You? Discover the Surprising Causes of Tightness

Are you feeling stuck in your body? Unable to get back to the activities you love due to injury or tightness and restrictions?

You’re not alone. Many people find it hard to get to, or get back to, healthy habits after an injury, or other setback. Even though it’s something you want to do, it can be a struggle to make the necessary time for recovery. Working adults are busy, and many lack the knowledge and skills to manage the body properly. Plus, society is chock-full of untruths about how the body works and how to resolve “tightness.”

What I am going to detail here is why your tight muscles might not need stretching and some questions to ask yourself to determine what to do instead.


Sometimes our body feels tight due to chronic inflammation or dehydration. Sometimes, food intolerances trigger random tight-feeling muscles. We need to stay curious about changes in our nutrition, supplements, and hydration.

Research shows that how well our brain and body function results from the health of our gut microbiome. Even small changes in diet can result in big, cumulative effects over time. Being mindful of and tracking your consumption is the best way to stay on top of this.

Some Questions to ask Yourself: 
  • Am I hydrated? Is my urine clear and frequent?
  • Am I consuming a lot of candy, soda, and other processed foods?
  • Could I be having allergic reactions to foods or environmental factors like nuts, cigarette smoke and fragrances?


How are you thinking about the issues you face? Are you being unforgiving of yourself? Do injuries set off a world-ending panic alarm in our brain?

If you’re like me, one who’s been injured many times, you may become frightened when something feels tight. But jumping to extreme conclusions only cascades stress, making things worse.

Relax. Staying positive, curious, and analytical will save you countless hours of misery.

Some Questions to ask Yourself:
  • Am I holding my breath while I move?  All the time?
  • Am I breathing diaphragmatically?
  • Are certain movements triggering past events/injuries/traumas?


Tight muscles in one area of the body could be the result of overwork. These usually come and go, and are caused by a lack of strength and/or misalignment in the body.

Stretching weak muscles does more harm than good. They need strength, not flexibility. Instead, use gentle movement, good sleep, and adequate hydration

Other times, tight muscles can indicate restricted joints. In this case, our muscles are working harder than they should, causing pain. Stretching may mitigate this, but unless you also free the joint capsule, you won’t make lasting changes.

There’s also the case of nerve pain, which you should be careful not to confuse with muscle pain. Nerves can become irritated when stretched. This feels different than muscles and joints.

Some Questions to ask Yourself: 
  • What types of activities make the issue worse? 
  • Is my pain related to muscles, joints, or nerves?
  • Am I overstretching weak muscles?
  • What are my symptoms at the beginning, middle, and end of the activity?


Rest is imperative, but relative. Awareness will inform you wisely in this arena. If you’re recovering from an injury, you can modify your training load and substitute lower stress options in place of your old activities. It’s important to move regardless of prognosis, but it shouldn’t cause pain, nor extra stress.

Movement helps decongest injured tissue and promotes blood and lymphatic flow, while stress delays healing.Your body doesn’t distinguish between different types of stress. If you’ve recently had a death in the family, your body’s going to interpret that stress in the same way as if you were doing hard sprints. This means that every type of stress in your life needs to be considered when determining recovery time. Especially when you start to feel pain.

Another thing to note is that sometimes we feel tight not from exertion, but from a lack of it. Our muscles and tendons are wrapped in a substance called “fascia,” which holds our body together. Prior stress and injury can cause snags in this structural sheath, but additionally inactivity can promote chronic shrinking of this living tissue, which requires attention to the fascia, not the muscles.

Some Questions to ask Yourself: 
  • Am I active enough?
  • Am I giving myself adequate time for recovery from hard workouts?
  • Have there been any recent changes in my sleep patterns?
  • Has there been a recent life change that is giving me more stress?
  • Have I made any recent changes in my training load?

–> Keep in mind that this is not a definitive course of action for your particular case. Each person has unique needs and patterns, which is why a coach can come in handy to help to ask key questions to help you get on track. Let me know how I can partner with you.


I work with mid-life men and women who want to feel younger through improving their relationship to food, movement and mindfulness.

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