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Muscle Stiffness Causes and What You Can Do About It

Dec 22, 2022Body Pain0 comments

If you plan to start exercising, you might run into one issue. Muscle stiffness can be a huge pain for beginners. At least for me, it made me feel utterly unfit. Nothing defeated me like not being able to touch my toes. So, I dove into muscle stiffness causes.

This research was crucial for helping me get started. Now, I want to share that knowledge with you. Luckily, the guidelines for muscle stiffness are fairly similar to back pain. And, many of the stretches I’ve shared before work for it.

So, let’s dive into it.

What exactly is muscle stiffness?

As Healthline defines it, muscle stiffness manifest as tight muscles. You’ll find it harder to move, even after resting. Other symptoms may include pain and cramping. Its defining characteristic is that it only shows up when trying to move.

Luckily, muscle stiffness causes are usually fairly simple. The condition tends to go away on its own. Regular exercise and stretches can help you speed up the process.

That said, muscle stiffness can point to a serious condition. You should see a doctor if you feel extreme muscle weakness. If the stiff area becomes red or swells, that’s also a bad sign. Finally, keep an eye out for a fever.

What are the most common muscle stiffness causes?

Muscle stiffness can come for many reasons. Chronic conditions, like fibromyalgia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, can trigger it. However, most cases come from straightforward factors.

In those cases, light physical therapy and exercise are enough.

The most common causes are as follows:

  • Sprains and strains affect ligaments and muscles, respectively. They can cause sudden pain, swelling, and stiffness.
  • Excessive exercises and sudden workout changes can injure your muscles. That includes starting to work out. Your muscles develop microscopic tears, causing soreness and stiffness. This sensation goes away on its own.
  • On the other hand, being sedentary can weaken your muscles. Your muscles get used to the lack of movement. Thus, they tend to become stiff.
  • Dehydration can also cause muscle stiffness. Muscle cramps are a common symptom of dehydration.
  • Finally, some infections can cause muscle stiffness. The flu, stomach flu, mononucleosis, and meningitis are the most common.

You should see a doctor if none of these conditions apply to you.

Emotional issues among muscle stiffness causes

Curiously, anxiety and similar disorders can cause muscle stiffness. We tense up when anxious. With chronic anxiety, these effects become more prominent. But, even mild anxiety can cause muscle stiffness.

Stress is another common reason for muscle stiffness. You might feel your muscles tense up during stressful periods. That’s particularly true for your shoulder and neck muscles.

Likewise, you might also “convince” yourself that you’re stiff. Somatization can turn states of mind into physical symptoms. So, your emotional distress and discomfort may translate into muscle stiffness.

What can you do to fight muscle stiffness causes?

Of course, the best way to prevent muscle stiffness is to work out and stretch. But, you might experience it despite your physical activity. On those occasions, you have several tools at your disposal.

Firstly, you can use home treatments. That includes massages, heat and cold application, and stretching. Heat is better for muscle stiffness. That’s because it relaxes your muscles and ligaments. Though, cold compresses can improve inflammation.

That said, stretching is the best approach in most cases. It also improves flexibility, thus helping with prevention. That’s why stretching before and after working out is crucial. It can also help your muscles heal faster.

Finally, relaxation techniques can help you lose stress. Consequentially, your muscles will relax. That’s why yoga is effective against muscle stiffness. It combines stretching with relaxation.

The holistic takeaway

muscle stiffness causes - girl doing streching exercises

There are many muscle stiffness causes. But, most of them are fairly easy to diagnose and treat. Just make sure you pay attention to tight muscles. Oftentimes, it’s a sign that you need to rest.

You can do a lot to improve stiffness. But, I’d advise against heading straight to medication. Instead, try stretching. That way, you can aid your body’s healing. Plus, it’ll make stiffness less likely in the future.

For stretching routines, I highly recommend Hyperbolic Stretching. It’s a simple guide that focuses on your nervous system. It targets the biological causes of muscle stiffness. So, it’s my favorite treatment method.


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