Based on research from Manchesterphysio.co.uk (source), muscle tightness is a form of hypertonicity. Hypertonicity is an increase in muscle tone. It is the main cause of muscles tightening up. When muscles are tight, muscle fibres become stiff and rigid which limits movement. Due to excessive tone, the muscle remains in a shortened state causing imbalance in the body. Tight muscles can pull posture out of alignment and can constrict blood flow. The problem of muscles tightening up can be reduced with massage. Massage stimulates blood flow in the muscles, increasing the temperature.
An increase in temperature and blood flow allows the muscles to relax. Once muscles are relaxed and lengthened, posture and movement will improve. The most common reasons are poor posture and emotional stress. Standing, sitting or lying with poor posture produces tension or load on the muscles. When a muscle is loaded, it naturally resists the load by contracting to overcome the demand. Tight muscles affect joint mobility which restricts movement. When joints are immobilise for a length of time, muscles, connective tissue, ligaments and tendons can lose extensibility. Lack of flexibility around a joint leads to tissues being stuck together and encourages an abnormal cross-linking of connective tissues.
One of the biggest relief for tight muscles is massage. The benefits of massage for tight muscles are reduced tension, decrease pain and improved range of movement. Massage helps reduce tight muscles by increasing the temperature of soft tissues, increasing blood circulation, breaking down adhesions and decreasing tone. Muscle tightness can be treated with a range of massage techniques.