When it comes to the average lifting enthusiast, there is a common pattern we see in the progression from beginners to experienced lifters. They start out wanting to get as big and strong as possible and only have eyes for lifting weights. Somewhere along the way, they may get interested in dieting and introducing cardio for fat loss in order to get leaner, but for the most part, they stay focused on trying to lift heavy weights. Usually, they are content to ignore any other modality until one day they incur an injury and are forced to come to terms with why they got hurt in the first place. The common scapegoat nowadays for getting injured is having “tightness” or a lack of mobility at a certain joint.

To combat this perceived source of injury, people have turned to stretching and mobility work as the holy grail of injury prevention and performance enhancement. Being “tight” or lacking mobility has been cast as a trait we should avoid at all costs. While this probably makes sense from a general health and movement resiliency standpoint, it may not apply so well when it comes to lifting heavy weights. While there certainly are instances where tightness can be a bad thing, lacking tightness could kill your ability to lift as much weight as possible.

 

Tightness Can Be a Bad Thing

One thing we have to keep in mind is the function we are trying to achieve. If your goal is to be limber and/or perform some type of gymnastics exercise, then flexibility is going to be important to your function. You will need to spend time working on eliminating tightness from your joints in order to gain the flexibility it takes to achieve those goals and avoid injury [3]. This is why mobility work is so important in the sport of CrossFit. CrossFit athletes are constantly performing gymnastics and movements that demand flexibility such as overhead squats.

Similarly, you don’t want to be tight if your goal is to perform simple movements like sitting and standing up or even tying your shoes. This may seem silly to many of you, but these things start to become difficult as you age and enter the later stages of life. So, if longevity is of high priority for you, then tightness is going to be a bad thing. Establishing the mobility and range of motion now as a young person will help to keep these issues at bay as you age.

Tightness can also be a bad thing if it leads to or is causing pain. No matter who you are or what your goals, pain is never welcome. Having pain in your knee because your hip is too tight to sit down or squat properly warrants some sort of intervention to remedy your tightness. Unfortunately, many people ignore their pain and troublesome tightness because they don’t want to stop lifting heavy or making gains. Even if it means you have to take a step backward in terms of strength or performance to fix your issues, it is worth the investment. You can either limit yourself now or wait until your body forces you to do so.

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