Why are you less flexible the day after a hard workout?

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Why are you less flexible the day after a hard workout?

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Your muscles are swollen from the trauma of tiny tears in your muscles that occur when exerting them, sort of how a body part swells when you break a bone but on a much smaller scale and it’s a natural part of growth.

Working out causes micro tears to the muscles under stress, the repair process causes inflammation, inflammation reduces range of motion.

By exercising you’re causing microtears in your muscles.

The following day your body is in healing mode and that lack of flexibility is your body saying “Nope. You shouldn’t do that. We’re going to keep everything swollen and compact so that there isn’t so much movement to disturb the healing”.

It’s pretty much the body’s own version of bandaging a sprained joint for support.

Your body has two choices on how to deal with having insufficient strength for the task you assign it. 1) get stronger 2) get tight.

Imagine you go hangliding and your harness fails, you don’t have time to get strong so your grip muscles get tight instead. That way you hang on.

By doing a heavy workout you’re making your body panic a bit. Keep doing this and your body will get tighter and tighter.

Your hang-gliding misadventure was scary, you need a margarita to calm down. Your muscles were scared too and they also need to be calmed down via stretching, massage, etc.

You’ll find that both are less effective the day after a heavy workout cos your body’s building new muscle too. It’s good to still do it though.

Your best bet to avoid losing flexibility is to ensure you go through your full range; your body is also adapting to whatever range you give it. Give it a half squat and it’ll tighten you up halfway down to help you stop where you keep telling it you want it to stop.

If you’re strong and very tight, to stretch, you’re better off doing slow, lightly loaded movements through full ranges than you are doing yoga. The yoga won’t overcome your tightness the same way loaded toe touch will, for example. You have to figure out where the too light/too heavy barrier is.

Try using a massage gun. They’ve been shown in peer reviewed research to improve mobility and decreased delayed onset muscle soreness the days after a workout.