Tight vs Taut: The Answer to Your Stiff Body

Are your muscles tight or taut? The wording may seem simple but the treatment of these two scenarios is drastically different. Releasing tight muscles can relieve pain while releasing taut muscles can actually lead to more.

Lets define these two types of muscle tension.

Tight muscles = muscles that are shortened, often times from overuse.

Taut muscles = muscles that feel tight because they’re trying to compensate for weakness and keep you safe.

Tight muscles generally need to be lengthened to relieve pain “permanently”. For example, if you do heavy bench pressing four days a week, you will probably have a tight chest. Foam Rolling and stretching these muscles will help tremendously.

Taut muscles are generally long enough, but they’re being pulled out of place by a muscle imbalance elsewhere in the body. Your body will often cause toughness in your muscles to act as a counter-force to a muscle that’s pulling your joints in one direction too hard. A good example of this is hamstrings. Many people complain of the muscles on the back of their legs being too tight but the reality is that many people don’t have control over their pelvis. Their hips roll forward, their core becomes inactive, their butt muscles relax and suddenly the backs of their legs are forced to become overactive so that your pelvis doesn’t roll right off!

If you’re in this boat and you foam roll your taut hamstrings without adding the appropriate strength to your system, you will get 1-2 days of relief followed by a worsening of the pain you started with.

It’s extremely important to differentiate between tight and taut and the best way to find that out is to search for the trained eye of a qualified professional.

This is article 2 of 4 on fixing your tight body. Check back Friday for part 3, “How and when to work mobility in to your workout for superior results”

If you missed part 1, click here 



Nate Furlong holds a degree in Health Fitness in Preventative and Rehabilitative Programs, several certifications and is a consultant for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. A life-long student, Nate is always studying. He is a speaker and author and has been a featured speaker on TV several times. If you need to get in contact with Train Better or any of its affiliates, you can do so via email or phone. If you wish to make an inquiry about training, please leave a message and we will respond within 24 hours. If you wish to inquire about becoming a personal trainer, please follow the same protocol. In either case, let us know what time is most appropriate to return your phone call and we will do our best to accommodate your request. There is no limitation that would limit you from coming in to receive an evaluation. If we can not help you, we know someone who can. If we find your situation is outside of our scope of practice, we will gladly refer you to someone who can help.