I’ve always wondered why when I get up in the morning I’m so stiff!?!? I work hard to maintain a fair amount of flexibility in my muscles and joints. But every morning I wake up and feel like I am extremely stiff and rigid.
The Musculoskeletal System
I think the reason must be contained within the three major components of our musculoskeletal system. This system consists of bone, skeletal muscle, and connective tissue.
My bones aren’t changing much overnight I’m guessing. So the reason I’m so stiff must lie with my muscle and connective tissue.
Skeletal Muscle Is Really Amazing
The muscles that operate our skeletal system are fascinating and complex systems. Individual muscle fibers are bunched together and wrapped in a protective sheath called a perimysium. The bundles are called fasciculi and many of those bundles together make up the muscles as we see them.
The entire bundle of the individual fasciculi is wrapped in another sheath called an epimysium. On top of all of that there is one more layer of connective tissue that binds everything together, and that’s what I’m going to focus in on.
The fascia is like an outer layer that serves to bind everything together or to allow muscles/connective tissue to slide smoothly over their neighbors.
I’m interested in this sliding over neighboring groups of muscle because that seems to be what I have a problem with in the morning when I’m stiff.
As With Anything On The Internet
Contradicting information is rampant. I read a short article about a man named Gil Hedley. Gil is a PhD, but not of the medical profession. He does have an interesting curiosity with human anatomy and movement and has established quite an impressive following. His most famous video shows Gil look at a real human cadaver. Gil looks at what he calls “fuzz” that has built up over the fascia of the muscle.
Warning: Gil is working with a real human cadaver in the video. Do not watch if you can’t handle that.
Gil’s theory is that when we are inactive, this fuzz starts to build up on our fascia. If we are inactive long enough, the fuzz gets thicker and we get less mobile or more stiff. An interesting concept.
Of course plenty of information exists that suggests stretching does nothing at all and there is no reason to do it. I even found an blog post that quotes Bob Cooper (notable running journalist) as having said, “In my experience runners who stretch are injured more often, and when they stop stretching the injuries often go away.”
Lets Think About The Problem
I’m stiff after I’ve laid in a bed for 7 to 9 hours. My muscles haven’t moved much, my body has slowed it’s systems, and my muscles are a little cooler.
What fixes this problem? Movement does! I’m not entirely sure that my body is developing fuzz between my muscle fascia in essence gluing them together. It’s an interesting concept, but hard for me to fathom.
Conversely I’ve got to disagree with Bob on stretching being a detriment. What kind of stretching were these runners he observed doing? Did they have injuries in the first place? Can he really correlate stretching to the injury? Lots of variables, little common sense.
I Want to Feel Better and Perform Better
I don’t want to feel like I do when I first get out of bed for the duration of the day! Here’s what I know for a fact works for me. If I stretch for 10 minutes a day, I feel worlds better. I prefer to get my body warm first.
I do some squats, a few pushups and then I work on what bothers me. My knee is the culprit lately. So, I’ve been working on my glutes (upstream) and my hamstrings and calves (downstream).
It’s not rocket science, it’s action. People who take action get results. Feel crappy all day but notice you feel a little better if you come workout. There’s a reason for that and it should not be ignored. Who cares what the reason is, it works!
I tried to be objective and scientific and figure out why I get stiff overnight. Maybe I could figure it out, but in the hours I’d spend trying I could have just stretched a bit and felt better. In this instance it doesn’t really matter why. I know it happens, and I know how to fix it. I’m sure there are other situations I could apply this to as well 🙂
The O-Board Says…
Good Ole’ Dumbbells
AMRAP 15 Minutes
8 Renegade Row
12 DB Push Press
15 DB Deadlift
** Every 3 Min, 10 DB Thruster **
20 minutes of Yoga
Posted by: Stets