Everyone gets a feeling of being stiff and achy from time to time and it’s usually nothing to worry about. If it’s been going on for a while though read on…..
Here are a few reasons you might be feeling this way and some ideas to help you feel better.
Biomechanics refers to the way we use our body to move. When our body is functioning well movements feel easy and muscles work together in a balanced way meaning our movements are efficient and easy.
Say for example you sprain your ankle and start to walk with a limp your biomechanics are off – you start to put more weight on your good side and limp around. Then you might find your uninjured side becomes strained and tight due to overcompensating for the injury. If it’s just for a week or two while the ankle heals it’s not likely to cause much of an issue.
Problem is sometimes we pick up faulty patterns of movement which might only be subtle but repeated daily for years can cause feelings of stiffness due to some muscles overworking and others “switching off” because they aren’t being used as they should be.
A top tip for this is to take up an exercise like Yoga or Pilates. Doing this helps you “tune in” to your body and develop awareness of your pattern of movement and make subtle changes.
A good teacher can guide you through this and adapt exercises so they suit your ability level.
Poor biomechanics or posture can lead to muscular imbalances. Our muscles are meant to work together to move our body. For example when you bend your arm at the elbow the biceps muscle contracts (becomes shorter) while the triceps muscle lengthens. To straighten your arm the triceps muscle contracts while the biceps lengthens (this is over simplified – there are more muscles involved but you get the idea). This pattern is repeated all over your body with muscles and the issue is if one muscle starts to malfunction it can affect others around it. Here’s an example of things going wrong in the hips.
The glutes are big, powerful muscles in your bottom. As humans we were designed to stand up and walk around a lot – all movements which utilise the glutes. Unfortunately many of us spend most of our day sitting at a desk, then come home and sit on the sofa. When we sit on our glutes we are not using them and over time they become weaker. What’s more – the muscle at the front of the hip – the psoas (also known as the hip flexors) ends up becoming shorter and tighter because when we sit the muscles at the front of the hip shorten.
If you are finding it hard to get out of an armchair due to stiffness it’s likely that some of this is going on for you.
A great way to improve mobility in this area is a deep bodyweight squat – click here for more
At a massage appointment Simon or Anna can show you some easy exercises to wake up your glutes and stretch your hip flexors out.
Lack of movement
Our bodies are designed to move – we are not supposed to spend all day sitting and for many of us aches and stiffness are a by product of not getting enough exercise.
The good news is you can do a lot to fix this by simply upping your movement and minimising your time spent sitting. For example if you sit at work all day – could you use a standing desk some of the time or go for a brisk walk at lunchtime.
Need more reasons to get out for a walk? Click here for reasons why
When people complain of stiffness in the ankles or legs the first thing I will ask about is what footwear they are wearing.
- High heels can cause the achilles tendon and calves to shorten and put a lot of weight on the front of the foot
- Shoes that are completely flat can overstretch the achilles tendon leading to pain and stiffness
- Sketchers which are really padded can FEEL really comfy but don’t always give the support needed
- Flip flops force you to tense your feet to “hold” them on and offer no support to your feet at all. These are best limited to poolside and changing room wear – they are not an everyday shoe for anyone.
There is no one size fits all shoe for everyone as we are all different – if you always wear sketchers and you don’t have any issues then keep going but if you are having pain in feet/ankles or legs then it might help to change footwear.
It also makes sense that you have different types of footwear for different activities. For high impact activities you need a more padded shoe to cushion you against impact while for hiking you want a supportive rigid shoe to help you keep balance over uneven terrain.
There are many types of arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis which is the type caused by “wear and tear” on the joints and becomes much more common as we age. In fact most people over the age of 40 will have signs of osteoarthritis that can be picked up in x rays or scans.
If you have osteoarthritis it’s really important you keep as active as you can as keeping your muscles strong can reduce pain levels and keep you mobile.
There are other forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid or psoriatic and these need prompt medical treatment.
You should see a doctor if your joints are
- Warm to the touch
- Red or swollen
- Pain is severe enough to stop you doing normal daily activity
- You have tried forms of self help and the pain persists
You could still have massage if you have one of these types of arthritis but it is important you are also receiving medical care alongside as without treatment the damage to the joint can become worse.
How does massage help?
Massage can help relieve feelings of stiff achy muscles by boosting blood flow and increasing flexibility in the muscles and soft tissue around joints. This can be just the boost you need to then be able to get a bit more activity into your life which can then help prevent the stiff achy feeling returning,
Massage isn’t the whole answer though….
I always say to clients that you can have the best massage in the world and it can make you feel great after but if after the massage you go straight back to doing the things that caused the pain – then the pain will return.
That’s why at Relax Theapies we try to uncover the reason for the pain and give you tips to manage it and prevent it coming back.
How we help:
- Massage to reduce pain, tension and stiffness
- Advice on managing injury at home
- Stretches or strengthening exercises you can do at home to improve mobility and prevent return of pain
If we can’t help we will always say and refer you to a professional best placed to help you.
If you’d like to make an appointment click the button below to book in with our Sports Massage therapist Simon,
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