Experiencing muscle stiffness or tightness after rest or workout? Most people experience tight muscles at one point in their lives. Tight muscles can limit your ability to move – not to mention the fact that they are outright annoying! For athletes or physically active individuals, this can jeopardize your exercise program and competitive performance. Learning how to prevent and manage stiff muscles can help you minimize its occurrence or recover faster.
8 Possible Causes of Stiff or Tight Muscles
There are various factors that might cause your muscles to feel stiff and tight. They range from everyday activities, intense training activities, to infections. Their occurrence also depends on risk factors such as gender and age. Below is a list of 8 common causes of tight and stiff muscles:
- Strains and Sprains: According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, accidents and sports injuries such as strains or sprains are the most common causes of stiff and tight muscles. Specifically, a sprain occurs when ligaments are torn, twisted, or stretched. Body areas prone to sprains include joints in the thumbs, wrists, ankles, and knees. On the other hand, strains affect muscle fibers, especially in the lower back and legs. Sprains and strains are characterized by stiff/tight muscles, tenderness, swelling, pain, and bruising.
- Exercise: Research shows that training exercises that involve a change in body position or moving an object can produce muscle tightness and stiffness. The issue is also common among people who start new exercise programs or increase the intensity of their routines. Typically, the strain on the muscles leads to microscopic damage that is experienced as stiffness.
- Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits: Are you experiencing muscle stiffness although you are not engaged in strenuous physical exercise? Then the lack of physical activity might the reason for your woes. Poor diet, poor sleeping posture, and being overweight have also been associated with stiffness. Although muscle tightness is occasional, it is important to keep in mind that it is also preventable.
- Infections: Tight and stiff muscles are not necessarily linked to physical stress. Patients suffering from infections such as the flu, lupus, mononucleosis, polio, legionnaires’ disease, HIV, meningitis, and tetanus may experience muscle stiffness as a symptom of their condition.
- Medications: Muscle stiffness is a relatively common side effect of anesthetics, statins, and medications used to lower the level of cholesterol. In such cases, it’s highly advisable to consult your doctor, especially if the symptom persists.
- Insect Stings or Bites: If you fear bugs such as spiders, fleas, mosquitoes, ticks, horseflies, bees, hornets, and wasps, then there is one more reason to avoid them – their bite might cause muscle stiffness. Depending on whether you experience an allergic reaction to the bite, the muscle tightness and stiffness should improve within a few days. But also keep in mind that the stiffness might be a symptom of a serious condition such as malaria or Lyme disease.
- Stiffness of Aging: Most people, if not all, experience muscle stiffness as they age. The ability of older people to move freely is restricted, especially in the morning. There are numerous assumptions and possible causes, including weakening of muscles, joints, and bones. It’s also suggested that the feeling of stiffness is mainly due to inflammation or “inflammaging” – yea, this is an actual scientific term. The condition is believed to increase the vulnerability of older people to age-related diseases and biological aging, including the feeling of stiff and tight muscles.
- Muscle Knots: Muscle knots or trigger point are basically adhesions in your muscles or soft tissue. Similar to a knot in a rope, triggers points might cause a feeling of tight or stiff muscles. Some studies show that muscle tissue might contain taut bands that correlate with feelings of muscle tightness and stiffness. However, it is essential to note that there is limited scientific evidence to support this theory.
Consequences of Muscle Stiffness
The common assumption is that the feeling of tight and stiff muscles is harmless. However, there is emerging evidence that suggests otherwise (read on). Sure, some cases of muscle stiffness resolve on their own, but it’s also important to consider their impact on a person’s ability to function. Some patients experience widespread discomfort, cramping, and muscle pains. Stiff and tight muscles might even be a sign of a severe underlying problem.
According to a study published by the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, muscle tightness is a common symptom that can become chronic if not treated appropriately. Unfortunately, this study also claims that nurses often presume the condition to be self-limiting – meaning it resolves itself without the need for medical intervention. The findings showed that patients experiencing stiff or tight muscles experienced different sensation that hindered their quality of life. Some of the study subjects claimed that the symptoms lingered and they were forced to adjust their daily activities.
Preventing and Relieving Tight and Stiff Muscles
Most causes of stiff and tight muscles are preventable! All it takes is a little tinkering of your lifestyle habits. Below are a few expert tips that you can incorporate into your daily routine:
- Make a habit of exercising regularly to stretch your muscles and avoid stiffness. But remember to warm up before/after an exercise program. A study in the Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine claimed that overstretching or holding awkward positions can cause muscle damage, making it counterproductive.
- Avoid long spells on inactivity – keep your heart pumping and your body moving
- Ensure that chairs, beds, and other furniture at work or home are supportive of your posture and they are comfortable.
- Act the part by having the right attire or footwear for your training routine. This helps prevent tight and stiff muscles due to injury or harsh weather
- Get enough sleep! Aside from being enjoyable and refreshing, quality sleep improves muscle recovery, hence reducing the risk of stiff muscles.
- We’ve saved the best for last – stay hydrated! Eating a nutritious diet and drinking water regularly reduces the risk of muscle stiffness while improving your general wellbeing. Scientific research actually shows a link between dehydration and tight/stiff muscles.
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Suffering from tight or stiff muscles? The above lifestyle and physical interventions might help relieve the condition. However, to improve their effectiveness, the RECOVER CBD Pain Cream from Kino CBD contains glutathione, among other potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can boost your recovery. You can purchase it below or check out Kino’s other CBD products to help relieve tightness and stiffness here!
Featured Image: Jesper Aggergaard via Unsplash