Tight vs. Toned

July 14, 2011

Iliotibial band

My sweet and lovely physical therapist keeps telling me that my ITB (short for iliotibial band) is too tight. She kneads it and squeezes it and last time I has a therapy session, she raked it with a shoe horn. If she tries that again, I'm gonna give her such a ka-knock!

My ITB is supposed to be tight. It's a fibrous reinforcement around certain muscles. Massaging it and stretching is is not going to make it loose. And I don't want it loose anymore than I want the shocks and/or springs on my car loose.

The entire concept of being "too tight" really bugs me. It's not a legitimate concept or condition actually. Truth be told, stretching is a pretty useless activity for much of anything.

Statements like the one I just made drive P.T.s and A.T.C.s batty. But the truth is when muscles are strong, they exude a high tonus (or tone as it is commonly called). Tonus is the state of resting tension of anything. For example, a wooden table exudes a higher tonus than a pillow. Weak muscles feel soft and pliable to the touch. Strong muscles feel hard and rigid. But this doesn't mean that there is something wrong with strong muscles - something that stretching and massage will fix.

So because my muscles are strong, my P.T. thinks I'm tight and need to stretch. I beg to differ. I'm strong and fine the way I am. And I love a good massage. But a massage is beneficial for other reasons.

I'll ship a free copy of my book Strong Kids, Healthy Kids: The Revolutionary Program for Increasing Your Child's Fitness in 30 Minutes a Week to the first person who gets this question right. What does research in stretching show is the main reason why your range of motion increases after you stretch?

All friends of mine who I've had this conversation with already are, of course, excluded!

Good luck!