Combat tense muscles with functional movements

·2-min read

After a tough workout or long walk, it's not uncommon to have sore muscles the next day.

But if muscles feel stiff or more difficult to move than usual, especially after taking a rest, you may have muscle rigidity.

"Muscle rigidity is when muscles become tense, immobile or unresponsive and they cannot relax normally. Muscle rigidity causes pain, discomfort, and makes it difficult to move around as you normally would," explained Triyoga Pilates teacher Phil Bishop. "There are a variety of things that can cause muscle rigidity but most often it's due to stress, lack of movement or straining from over-exercising."

To combat this issue, Phil recommends trying out functional movements. These exercises help muscle tension and prevent seizing by activating and mobilising the muscles. "Functional movements and exercises tend to translate easily to life and the way we move day to day," he continued. "For example, a bodyweight squat is a functional exercise which uses the movement pattern we use daily sitting down and getting up."

Read on for a round-up of exercises to try out:

Bodyweight squats

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel or slightly turned out. Have your arms at your sides and raise them forward as you bend your hips and knees to lower down. Try to move your hips first and avoid moving your knees immediately forward. Maintain an upright spine position to avoid an excessive shift into your lower back. If your heels lift off, place yoga blocks or books under your heels.

Try 10 x repetitions, three to four times a week.


"This exercise will activate and work the muscles in your chest, back and upper arms," stated Phil.

Start on all fours, then move your hands eight to 10 centimetres forward. Move your shoulders over your hands and lower your pelvis in line with your shoulders and knees. Hold the position and bend your elbows to lower your chest slowly halfway down to the floor, pause then press back up to straighten your arms.

Try eight x repetitions, three to four times a week.

Spine curl

"This exercise activates the muscles of the spine, hamstrings and glutes," the yoga instructor noted.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Tilt your pelvis back to press your lower back onto the mat. Maintain the pelvic tilt and lift your pelvis up. Raise your straight arms up and over your head. Lower your spine back down to the mat. Return your arms to your sides.

Try eight x repetitions, three to four times a week.