Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do my muscles get so tight after I exercise?"
No problem with my muscles until after I exercise, which I do about 4 days a week. Everytime after I am done they are extremely tight and no matter how much I stretch they stay that way for hours. How can I avoid this? Should I just stretch more before my work out or is something up with my muscles?
The skeletal muscles are truly amazing organs of our body, which need to be understood to be able to explain your symptoms. Each muscle is made of millions of small fibers that ratchet up on top of each other when you contract them, and then relax when you relax. Each fiber or ratchet unit has an optimal length at which it attaches to the next fiber in order to generate strength. When those fibers are used, they obtain this optimal setting, which helps them to generate more force when they are called upon. That it, they are constantly in the ready position, which is why lifting weights regularly causes people to appear more muscular: their muscles are in a constant state of contraction to a small degree. Stretching is important for many reasons, and one of them is to help coordinate the muscle fibers and relax the stretch receptors that are triggered when there is too much tension on a muscle. This is extremely helpful at preventing injuries, and should be performed both before and after exercising in order to maintain optimal wellness. It is also important for your cartilage, as cartilage needs movement to buffer properly. Please speak to your doctor and have your annual physical exam as suggested.
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