Fix tightness by strengthening, not stretching

Whether it’s hamstrings, shoulders, calves or you name it, we’ve been duped into thinking that the best way to relieve tightness is to stretch.

Stretching has a place in any workout routine, either during a dynamic, full-body warmup or in the form of static poses during a post-workout cool-down session. But if muscle tightness is holding you back, stretching endlessly isn’t going to solve the problem.

Almost always, tightness = weakness. It’s your body’s response when you ask it to do something it doesn’t have the strength to do. It tightens up, thus discouraging you from doing it.

Here’s a great illustration from my friend Tim DiFrancesco of TD Athletes Edge. In this example, he’s showing us how to resolve annoying groin tightness with an exercise that challenges your shoulder stability as well as the strength of your core, hip flexors and adductors.

If you sit and/or travel a lot and are looking to incorporate multiple exercises into your morning routine (or after a long day at the office or a long flight), here’s a side plank progression we use in our dynamic warmup.

  • Assume a side plank position, with your legs straight, feet stacked, elbow directly beneath the shoulder and the other shoulder directly on top of that.

  • Lift your hips until your body is in a straight line from your feet through your knees, hips and shoulders

  • Bend your top leg in front of your body, with your toe pointed up toward you.

  • Begin with 3-4 sets each side of 10-20 second holds and build from there

  • If you cannot hold this position safely with your body straight and still, regress to a standard side plank ... or regress further to a side plank with your knees on the floor.

Try adding these exercises to your routine and let us know in the comments how it’s going. Also, if you’d like to grab one of only 10 FREE spots in our Online Personal Training Beta Test, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch right away with the details. But hurry! There are only a handful of spots left.