Since inception of Premier in 2015, and even going through the therapy experience myself in 2012 at Penn State, it’s hard to remember a time that the sensation of tightness was not felt or discussed.
Here's an example of a conversation I have all the time:
Client: "I feel a little different actually - my range of motion has increased, but I feel so tight."
Me: "Yes, that is very normal actually..."
So how it can it be that Neuro Therapy simultaneously increases range of motion while also increasing a sensation of tightness?
From our perspective, it’s completely normal and actually is telling us that we are making improvements. That can sound a bit strange, because typically we associate tightness with overworking the muscles in a counter productive way.
So what makes us believe that we're making improvements when you’re feeling things like tightness?
There are two types of tightness: -----
1. Mechanical tightness and
2. Neurological tightness.
Mechanical tightness is a sensation that occurs when the muscle is actually shortened. Example: you sit in the car for 4 hours driving to the beach for the weekend. Your back is tight, hamstrings are tight, even the muscles around your knees feel tight. You get out of the car, take a deep breath, and then walk like a hunched over caveman for a few steps until your back can straighten out. This is mechanical tightness - the actual shortening of the muscle.
Neurological tightness is a sensation that occurs when we begin to operate in a new range of motion. During therapy, we put a tremendous amount of effort into neurologically relaxing and lengthening muscle groups so that you can create and absorb more force at your end ranges of motion.
By continuously putting the muscle at length, this neurological tightness effect kicks in sometimes after sessions. Now that the muscle has increased its length, the neurological tightness becomes present. The nervous system wants to let you know it’s unfamiliar with this new range and that you are now moving your muscles in this new range of motion. But don’t worry, as the nervous system becomes more comfortable in this new range of motion, that feeling of tightness starts to dissipate.
A great example of this is shown in the picture below. This is a client that traveled all the way from Delaware to receive treatment for the week. He had been dealing with a chronic neck issue that has been around for years.
As you can see in the pictures below, his range of motion increased every day. However, almost every day that I asked how he was doing, he mentioned tightness.
It wasn't the "mechanical tightness" that he is used to feeling, though. The tightness he was feeling was his nervous system adjusting to a new range of motion that it hadn't experienced in a long time.
Believe me, I also had a paradigm shift in my thought process once I experienced and learned the differences of mechanical vs. neurological tightness. This process will definitely challenge you in many ways, including experiencing unusual sensations as your body adapts to the changes we are making to strength, muscle activation, and range of motion..
About the Author
Evan Lewis is a nationwide leader in Neuro Therapy and founded the Baltimore area's only specialist Neuro Therapy facility for people who want to stay active into their 40s, 50s, and beyond.
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