I often hear from patients and others I talk to about some discomfort that they are in that…. it’s just tight muscles!
This may be the case but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. For muscles to do their function – which is to move a limb around a joint, then they need to be attached to the bones that make up the particular joint. This means that it’s never just the muscles. It may also involve other muscles that attach to the same bone or other bones involved in that limb and joint. It might also involve what are called the “antagonist” muscles. These are the muscles that will move the involved limb in the other direction. These muscles need to be “inhibited” so that the agonist muscles can move the limb without the resistance of the opposing muscles. For this coordination to occur your nervous system needs to be functioning at its best so that one group of muscles get the message to move while the other group get the message to rest.
Depending on which limb needs to be moved there might also be ligaments involved in stabilising the joint. This particularly applies to major joints such as the ankles, knees, hips, pelvis, spine and shoulders.
Another critical component to achieving stability for any limb to move is that other muscles within your trunk will need to be activated to provide the stability needed. And again their involvement will extend to the bones and ligaments that make up the joints that they attach to. And on it goes, particularly with a repetitive activity like walking.
Your body is an amazing organism. It’s unlike any machine ever built which is why it’s even more important to look after it as well as you can.