T Nation

Strengthening Tight Muscles


#1

Hi guys

My pecs and hip flexors are particularly tight to the point of affecting my posture. I've tried stretching them out but it doesn't seem to make much difference.

Both these muscle groups are also pretty weak - I'm wondering whether any of you think strengthening these muscles would improve my flexibility or whether it would decrease it further?

Any ideas? As I say I've tried stretching them to no success.

Stuart


#2

Strengthening the muscles, to my knowledge, will not of it self improve or decrease flexibility…

However if you don’t stretch a muscle after doing strength work, it’s almost def. gonna get tighter.

That said, some strength work will help improve your flexibility, like deep back or front squats…

The fact that your muscles are tight shouldn’t be the determining factor as to whether you are going to work to strengthen them or not. The determining factor should be whether they need strengthening or not. And you say that they are weak. So strengthen them!

When you say you’ve tried stretching them, what does this mean? Does this mean, 1 stretch for each of them every second day for 10 seconds, after workouts? Or does it mean 10x day, 10 stretches, for 30 secs, for 10 sets? You gotta be more specific. What type of stretches? Relaxed, isometric, dynamic, static? A mixture?

I have yet to meet someone or hear of anyone that has had NIL success with a properly constructed stretching program.

Other things to consider-

Tight pecs or the appearance of tight pecs may actually be a weakness in the opposing muscles- rear delts, traps, scap, other upper back muscles etc etc.

If a proper stretching program fails to get you to a good level of flexibility, look into self myofascial release- foam rolling! Improving soft tissue quality can do a hell of alot for flexibility!

Hope this helps.


#3

For tight hip flexors: Stretching, stretching, a bit of massage, dynamic work and then some more stretching. I had mayor hip flexor pain, but it went away in a week after I started streching and doing dynamic work.


#4

You probably haven’t been stretching them hard enough. Check these out:


I usually just use the doorway stretch for the pecs.

tassietaekwon makes a good point w/ opposing muscle group weakness leading to structural/postural flaws. What is your training history and what does your program look like?


#5

You may want to think about strengthening your upper back especially your rhomboids, upper traps if your posture is being affected.
Tight hip flexors may also be attributed to weak opposing muscles, glutes.

In addition to stretching, you may wanna consider foam rolling or ART if you can find a practioner.


#6

Definitely strengthen the upper back, especially the rhomboids. Keep stretching your chest and hip flexors, every day or every other day. You’re not trying to maintain flexibility, you’re trying to drastically improve it. Treat it like a workout in itself and devote some time to it.

Keep in mind that it’s going to take some time to shorten the opposing muscles. Consciously keep better posture (shoulders back, hips level), and it will help to decrease that time.


#7

Stretching takes much more time than most people assume.

For example, if you stretch a muscle 2 minutes a day most days of the week, that to date you’ve only been stretching half-heartedly, it might well take 6 weeks before having substantial improvement.

Somehow many recognize that it takes many, many total hours of work to build muscle, but imagine that a few seconds total stretching per week should, within just 2 or 3 weeks, make major improvements, and give up if it does not.