Have you ever told an angry person to calm down? How did that go? My guess is, the best it went was they looked at you in disbelieve and the worse was they became even angrier. That’s exactly how it works for muscles. An angry, aggravated muscle will not let you stretch and lengthen it.
You could visualise this by making a tight fist and then try to gently move your fingers away from the fist. Not that easy right? Especially if you don’t want to damage your fingers. Then make your hand into a relaxed fist and, magic, your fingers move away quite easily.
Muscles tense for a reason. Most of the time it’s a good thing otherwise you wouldn’t be able to move. And sometimes they try to protect themselves and their surrounding area. And when they get tight and can’t release anymore they will most likely to start hurting.
How to release tension?
To release tension you could come into a position where you don’t use those muscles anymore. Do you have lower back pain? You could lay on your back, feet wider then your hips, knees pointing up and relaxing towards each other. That position hurts you? Turn around into child’s pose. Hips towards your heels, head relaxes down. You see, it is very difficult to relax when you are in pain. Rambo may have been able to breathe through the pain, but that took him a long while to learn.
When you found your relaxed pose, start to breathe. Fill the belly with air, the chest, the ribs and then visualise the area where you can feel tension filling with air. That rhythmic movement will calm your muscles and your mind. When the body notices there is no harm coming from you breathing it might even relax more.
And when you have found a relaxed state of long, deep, slow breathing, you might want to start adding some movement. Slowly. If you are lying on your back you could start shifting your pelvis from left to right, tilt it forward and backward, lift the hips up for an inhale and lower them down for an exhale. Slowly and mindfully. In child’s pose you could take both hands over to one side for a side stretch or shift the hips from side to side. Whatever tickles your fancy. Notice how it feels.
Just remember, if you can’t take full deep breaths because you are feeling the tension, back off.