The One Habit that Can Make or Break Your New Gym Membership
Over half of all New Year's resolutions involve the goal of living healthier or getting in better shape. For many people, this commitment includes getting into the habit of regular exercise, often by starting up a new gym membership. While several things can make your exercise regimen more effective and help you meet your New Year's resolutions, there is one habit that can make or break your new gym membership.
How exercise causes muscle growth
To get the most out of your new gym membership, you need to know the basics of how muscles grow. It's actually a complex physiological process that happens in two main phases.
First, muscle tissue is broken down through strenuous activity. When you exercise, you work muscles by applying stress and tension greater than in your normal daily activities. As a result, your workout session causes localized muscle damage.
While having sore muscles is common after a good gym session, muscle pain is not a requirement for causing minor muscle damage. Typically, as the muscle grows over time, the muscle soreness you experience with a new workout routine lessens. The "no pain, no gain" attitude can sometimes do more harm than good.
The second phase of muscle growth is the recovery stage. The localized muscle damage caused by strenuous exercise provokes a response from your body, activating your immune system. Inflammatory and immune system cells respond to the muscle trauma, repairing the damage and enabling the muscles to heal, lengthen, and grow stronger to compensate for the damage.
For these phases to happen, the muscle needs to move. A moving muscle lengthens and shortens as we work out in the gym. However, a muscle that is tight and holds excess tension isn't able to move appropriately, which in turn impairs your ability to move properly. For instance, if the hip flexors are tight, they can prevent everything from your lower back to your legs from moving correctly.
A stretching habit isn't enough
We have all been taught that stretching is a vital part of exercising. Stretching increases blood flow to the muscles, improving flexibility, helping them warm up prior to exercising, and preparing that muscle to be moved through a range of motion. While stretching is vital to prepare a muscle to be repaired correctly, a stretching habit isn't a cure-all solution for every muscle problem you can develop at the gym, especially not knots or muscle tightness.
To keep muscles moving correctly, you need to relieve tension, and stretching alone can't do this. You need to add something else to your routine: massage and prolonged direct pressure.
Massage (even self-massage!) is a way of increasing circulation while calming and relaxing the muscle. Massage involves rubbing the muscle and physically moving and manipulating it to relieve tension, triggering your nervous system to calm and relax your muscle.
An even more effective way of eliminating and even preventing tension is to relax a muscle with direct, prolonged pressure. Applying this type of pressure at just the right angle and for just the right amount of time is essential for releasing muscle tension. This informs your brain that the muscle under pressure needs to relax, and the brain responds with a neurological signal that gets the muscle to do just that.
Muscle tension and running on the treadmill
Running is an excellent way to stay healthy in body and mind. A treadmill can lessen the impact of running, but it can still be hard on your body, causing muscle tightness and even pain. Long periods of running on the treadmill require the hip flexors to be in motion constantly. Every step causes the hip flexors to stretch and contract as your leg continually moves forward and backward, and if those flexors are tight, each step will be a struggle.
The risk of hip pain from running is most significant for people who generally spend most of their time sitting. This position keeps the hip flexors tight and short, training them to stay in that position even when they need to relax and lengthen.
Developing an at-home routine to help release muscle tension (especially the iliopsoas) can help prevent injuries and discomfort while running, as well as aid in the recovery process. In addition to a cool-down period, massage and direct pressure during the recovery period can help the muscles relax and release.
Lifting weights with tight muscles
Hip and core muscles keep our bodies stable. So, naturally, most types of weightlifting will put them to the test, especially whole-body movements like squatting.
We all have different shapes, sizes, and bone structures that affect the hip's ability to rotate, flex, and stabilize. Weightlifting is an effective method of building strength and improving athletic performance, but it also exerts tremendous force and stress on the hip joints.
Weightlifting routines are designed to primarily affect specific muscles or muscle groups. For instance, while squats mainly work the glutes, quads, calves, and back muscles, the hips, and hip flexors are responsible for ensuring your muscles work together properly. In other words, relaxing and lengthening the muscles in the hip region can improve the results of your weightlifting routine.
Of course, lifting heavy objects with tight muscles isn't recommended. As you know, stretching isn't quite enough to get these muscles moving freely again, which is why muscle release with direct, prolonged pressure is needed.
Better gym workouts with the Hip Hook
Preventing and relieving hip pain is vital to ensuring that you get the most from your new gym membership. After all, if the pain and discomfort of starting your new workout routine are too severe, it's unlikely that you will stick to your resolution and meet your goal.
It's vital to address and release tension from both the front and back of the hips. However, this can be challenging because of the location of these muscles.
One of the most effective solutions to release tension and allow the hip muscles to relax is applying direct pressure on them with the Hip Hook. The Hip Hook is the first patented product designed specifically to eliminate tightness and tension in your psoas and iliacus muscles (those are your main hip flexors).
The Hip Hook enables you to apply prolonged direct pressure precisely where it is needed. When integrated as part of your recovery routine, the Hip Hook can quickly provide long-term release of the muscles and increase your mobility. You'll get better workouts at the gym, and you'll stick with this new habit for longer as a result.