If you’re experiencing muscle cramping, stiffness, and pains, you probably have muscle tightness. Stiff muscles make it difficult to move or feel comfortable, but it’s not just painful; it’s restrictive and limits what you can do.
Is there anything you can do about muscle tightness other than lying down and hoping it goes away? Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to stop the pain and stiffness and start moving again. Please keep reading to find out what to do about it.
Table of Contents
What Causes Muscle Tightness?
A large part of treating stiff muscles is understanding what causes it. Muscle tightness is different from rigidity and spasms, which cause your muscles to feel stiff even when lying down. When your muscles are tight, it’s usually due to repetitive positions or movements that strain them or throw them out of balance. This leads to muscles that are strained and knotted.
Muscles can become tight during and after exercise—this kind of stiffness results from various factors like low potassium, low sodium, or muscle fatigue. The constant movement and tension of strenuous workouts or weight lifting can also create tightness. As the muscles contract, they shorten, which builds more and more pressure in the muscles.
Muscle tightness doesn’t always happen during exercise, but it can happen afterwards also. This is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. DOMS occurs when muscles get stiff after 24 to 72 hours after working. This typically happens after eccentric exercises when the muscles contract in a downward motion, like squats or a push-up.
Extended periods of inactivity can also cause muscle tightness. For instance, if you work in an office and sit most of the time, your muscles can become tight due to the limited movement. The restricted activity of always sitting can put your body in an imbalance because some muscles will be in a shortened position, and some will be in a lengthened position.
Read: First Day at the Gym
Can You Cure Muscle Tightness?
If you have stiff muscles, you can do things to alleviate the pain and loosen your body up. It does go away on its own, but if you want to speed up the progress, you can do a few things.
Getting a nice massage is an excellent way to relieve the pain from the tightness in your body. Deep tissue and sports massages mainly help stiff muscles because they target deep layers of muscle and fascia. If paying for a massage doesn’t interest you, you can get a good one at home with back massagers or a foot massager.
Read: Benefits of Mobile Spa
Moderate Intensity Exercise
Exercising probably sounds like the last thing you want to do if you’re experiencing muscle tightness, but moderate intensity can help. A light cardio workout like a walk can loosen your muscles and relieve some of the pain you feel. Aerobic exercises like side steps or marching in place are also useful to take away the muscle tightness.
This isn’t the best option for recovering sore muscles, but it can be a big help if you rarely experience it. Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or a nonsteroidal like Ibuprofen can get rid of the pain so you can get moving. This may be a good option if you just did a new or unusual exercise that you’re not used to. Frequent use, though, can prevent your muscles from repairing correctly.
We mentioned how increased blood flow could ease pain earlier, and heat increases blood flow in the body. That’s why taking a relaxing, warm bath is perfect for releasing built-up tension in the muscles. To make it even more relieving, add in a scoop of Epsom salts. The magnesium and sulfate in it have anti-inflammatory properties that will reduce the stiffness.
Read: Benefits of Foam Rolling
Preventing Muscle Tightness
It might seem like muscle tightness is unavoidable in life, but you can take precautions to prevent it from happening. You may not realize it, but other factors like your diet and how much water you drink can also cause muscle tightness. To make sure you’re covering all your bases, see the tips below to stop soreness from happening in the first place.
Having a balanced diet is essential to having healthy muscles. If your muscles don’t have the right nutrients, they won’t build and repair themselves. Calcium and magnesium are especially crucial to muscle health, and not having enough of either one can cause tightness in the muscles.
Read: Pre-Workout Foods
We can’t survive without water. People can last longer without food than water, so can you imagine the impact a lack of water can have on your muscles? Drinking the recommended eight glasses of water each day, or more if you sweat, can help keep your muscles healthy and strong.
When it comes to exercising, it’s good to get in the habit of stretching before and after your workout. Stretching will help keep your muscles flexible, improve blood circulation, and reduce inflammation, limiting your chances of experiencing tight muscles.
You already know that sitting at a desk all day can do a lot of damage to your body, which is why you must take breaks to get moving. Don’t stay seated all day long. Take a 10-minute break to walk around throughout the day, and even try standing up at your desk instead.
Improve Your Posture
Many people have bad posture and don’t even realize it. It’s a typical result of sitting all day and can cause muscle tightness. You can help prevent the likelihood of having stiff muscles by practicing good posture.
Read: Yoga Poses for Beginners
No More Tight Muscles
Tight muscles are a pain, but they don’t have to last. Understanding what causes muscle tightness and how to find relief is the first steps to stopping it. You can do things like massage and light exercising that ease the problem and things you can do to prevent it from happening again. With this knowledge, you can keep your muscles balanced and free.