One of the best ways to get a tight, sore muscle to relax is to first get it to contract more. Most massage techniques are based on this approach. If I push into a muscle that is very tight, painful, and in spasm, I can feel it respond by first getting tighter. If I hold my contact for 30-60 seconds the muscle will start to relax. (You can try this on your own sore shoulder or neck. If you see me at a show, grab me and I will show you.) Once there is a release from the tension, the muscle will be able to stretch. How much pressure to use is determined by the density of the muscle and the response. Some draft horses require a tremendous amount of pressure, while a lighter thoroughbred will need a very gentle touch.