Lengthen & Strengthen: How to recover quicker and avoid muscle tightness - Runners Edge Physio
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Lengthen & Strengthen: How to recover quicker and avoid muscle tightness

Written by:
Natalie Snyder, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Hannah Leis, Certified Rolfer


Strength Training + Rolfing = The Power Couple

Have your muscles ever felt so tight that nothing you do seems to help? You try to stretch or foam roll, but instead just have to take time off from your favorite activities until your limbs start to corporate again. Here at Runners’ Edge, we are firm believers that life is too short to have to take unnecessary time off from the activities we love most! While you are wobbling around like a baby moose who is learning how to walk, don’t worry, because there are things you can do to regain mobility (and prevent it from happening next time)! 

In fact there are TWO things you can do! And, if you combine these two elements of recovery, it will help you overcome muscle soreness and tightness so you can get back out to whatever it is you love to do, feeling 100% quicker!  What’s the trick you ask? 

Well, in this blog, we’re going to spill the beans! 

Spoil Alert, it involves LENGTH & STRENGTH. 

Why are your muscles tight after exercise?

Exercise can make us feel sore and tight. Not a new concept there. 

This is due to the constant muscular contraction needed to perform the given activity. It is caused by the motor cortex of the brain that sends signals to the body to activate (or over-activate depending on the intensity). In other words, your brain tells your muscles to “turn on.”

When our muscles are turned on all the time, it limits the joint’s full range of motion and may cause us to feel stiff. For example, after a long hike or bike ride, your hip flexors may feel tight and stiff, making it harder to extend your leg or hip back behind your body.  

Our Athlete Ambassadors pair strength training and Rolfing to optimize their training (Left: Kylee Wilcox, Right: Miron Golfman)

Why would I strength training something that’s tight?

Have you ever noticed how sore you are after the first hike of the year, but when you do that same hike at the end of the season, you feel completely fine afterwards? This is because muscle tightness is ultimately caused by weakness and/or imbalances in the joints around a muscle. The stronger we get, the less at risk we are of feeling tight and sore.  

By incorporating strength training as a component of recovery, we can recreate the nerve and muscle firing pattern in the correct sequence, making it easier for the joint to move as a whole. When the entire joint is stronger, the brain knows to trust the strength of the body and will allow it to move free, fast, and flow-y.

Sounds pretty simple right? We’ll there’s a catch… 

Before full joint mobility, we need full muscular LENGTH

When our muscles are tight, they actually shorten (hence why we feel stiff with limited range of motion). This poses an issue to effective strength training. Picture a 

Therefore, before we can start strength training we need full muscular length to allow full joint mobility.  How do we do that?  Not by stretching, but by manual therapy. 

Enter, Rolfing!

What does Rolfing do?

First off, if you are wondering what Rolfing even is, read THIS first

Rolfing is a form of manual therapy (like a sports massage), that helps release restrictive connective tissue and enhance circulation to the muscles (which helps them recover quicker!). In other words, Rolfing provides LENGTH to the previously contracted muscles. 

Have you ever noticed that you hold tension through your body even at rest? Examples include: 

  • Tight traps from shrugged shoulders while typing at work 
  • Tight hip flexors from sitting too long 
  • Headaches from neck tension  
  • Tight IT band after running from muscle imbalances 

After a Rolfing session, the tension and tightness will be less intense and you will feel more balanced in your body. Old holding patterns may return, but overtime, it becomes easier to let go and relax the overworked muscles. You will become more aware of how you are moving in your body and how that impacts your daily life. This will help you be more efficient and effective with the work you are doing with your PT or strength coach. 

Many of our clients opt for a 3 or 10-series Rolfing Package along with a progressive personalized strength training program. 

Learn more about the 3 and 10-Series 

How can you achieve both LENGTH & STRENGTH?

As we mentioned, muscles need full length & strength to function optimally, and for our joints to move freely. We can achieve this through strength training paired with Rolfing, AKA the Power Couple! 

Strength training + Rolfing make a perfect pair. The internal input from strength training, paired with the external input of Rolfing, will allow the body to overcome muscle tightness and ultimately, recover quicker!

Length & Strength takes teamwork

To achieve length and strength, it is important for all pieces of the puzzle to work together. This is why you, your PT/ Strength Coach, and your Rolfer need to be on the same page. Our team of experts meet weekly to discuss our shared clients and ways to optimize their performance. 

If your body feels tight often, we can help! Your PT/ Strength Coach and Rolfer will work together to tailor a treatment plan for YOU to achieve length and strength. 

Our Personal Trainer and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, Natalie, and Certified Rolfer, Hannah, can help you achieve length and strength!

Wondering if Strength Training paired with Rolfing is right for you? 

Schedule a FREE discovery session TODAY to find out!  


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