Muscle Tightness

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At one stage or another all of us have or will experienced muscle tightness. Whether from exercising (and not stretching), sitting at a desk all day, or over use of our muscles, it is inevitable, however there are ways to look after it when it occurs.

Unfortunately, tight muscles can cause many problems. They can create abnormal motions, they can produce muscle imbalances and they can make a muscle relatively weak for the activity that it needs to undertake. So taking care of them is important and doing those stretches isn’t just something you should do, but something you need to do.

Tight Calf (gastrocnemius/soleus) Muscles

If the ankle is not able to move through the full range of ankle joint motion the foot will have to compensate by pronating (rolling in) the rear foot or subtalar joint. Any excess pronation in the foot may be destructive, as it causes compensations to occur which put the foot and body at risk of injury such as causing foot, ankle, shin and knee pain.

If the subtalar joint is not able to provide the pronation then the stress is taken on by the metatarsals. This increases the risk of fracture and ligament damage. In addition to this there may be associated anterior ankle joint damage in particular bony overgrowth or exostosis causing subsequent impingement and thus a vicious cycle is formed. In addition tight calf muscles are prone to strains and pulls. They also create a muscle imbalance with the muscles in the front of the leg.

Weakness of the gastrocnemius muscle

This may cause claw toe deformity and/or plantar flexed 1st ray deformity as a result of the other leg muscles doing the work of the weak calf muscles. There can also be hyperextension of the knee which can also result in the risk of injury.

Tight Hamstrings

Tight hamstrings are prone to strains and pulls. They also create a muscle imbalance causing a relative weakness in the quadriceps. They also produce excessive knee flexion (bending). Both of these aforementioned problems can lead to knee injuries. They can also lead to a strain on the lower back musculature by pulling down on the hips.

How can I help or prevent these problem?

Follow the stretching and or strengthening program given to you by your Podiatrist. It is very important that you undertake the amount of stretches and for the length of time advised.

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