Exercise can leave you feeling wonderful – healthy, strong, and flushed with endorphins. For countless people, however, their exercise routines can leave them with one or two days of limping and pain. Muscle tightness and stiffness are extremely common, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you could be doing to prevent pain and alleviate it when it appears. Let’s dive into muscle tightness, from its causes to its solutions.
This blog outlines the basic details of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, as well as explaining treatment solutions such as osteopathic care. For personalised advice on your recovery needs, contact our team at Excel Body and Health today.
What is Muscle Soreness?
At one point or another, you may have found yourself wondering why your muscles get sore after a particularly strenuous workout. To put it simply, muscle soreness is the consequence of straining your muscles. The condition is known more specifically as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and it’s incredibly common – it’s inevitable to experience it at some point in your life.
Muscle soreness typically presents itself around 6 to 8 hours after activity, and can linger for a total 24 to 48 hours. For athletes, this is bound to be a regular occurrence, especially for anyone involved in high-intensity activities and sports. The soreness itself roots from inflammation throughout the muscle, and the inflammation is caused by overexertion and stress. As muscles strain, they break down, and once soreness eases they will mend and grow back even stronger. That’s why you’ll often hear the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’.
Common Causes of Tightness and Stiffness
There are a wide variety of reasons why somebody may develop muscle tightness – it isn’t solely a matter of a personal record-breaking workout. Any overexertion of the muscles may lead to soreness the following day, even if it’s a labour-heavy day of work or hours spent up on your feet and moving about. For many, DOMS is particularly intense and noticeable after a change in lifestyle, such as getting back to the gym after a long time away or beginning a new regimen in your exercise routine. Strain unfamiliar to your body is inevitably going to push it.
Other causes of stiffness may include:
- Increasing the activity of pre-existing training exercises (lifting heavier weights, completing more sets, increasing speed, and other variables)
- Repetition of physical activity without appropriate rest intervals
- Lack of proper warming up and warming down
- Labor-heavy work or activity during the day
- Diving straight into intense workout regimes rather than building up with time
How to Treat Muscle Stiffness
There are, fortunately, ways in which you can ease the discomfort that comes from DOMS. If muscle soreness is impacting your ability to go through your regular life with ease, there are steps you can take to minimise inflammation and ease pain. While time is certainly the best solution for average muscle tightness to dissipate, more severe cases of pain can be treated with a range of methods. Here are some ways to ease muscle pain and even prevent DOMS from occurring:
- Applying an ice pack to the swollen or warm area for around fifteen minutes
- Using a heat pack to increase blood circulation to the area (if there is no swelling)
- Receiving a massage to relax tight muscles and limit aches
- Use a foam roller to release tension in muscles
- Warming up prior to strenuous activity
- Stretching for 10 to 20 minutes following a workout
- Take a warm bath for pain relief
- Pacing yourself and gradually building up intense activity
- Keep moving and maintaining blood flow while muscles are stiff
What Osteopathy Can Do
If muscular tightness and pain don’t subside after a few days, or if they get worse with time, there’s a chance you may need to seek further help from a professional. Suffering a muscle injury is something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, especially if you’re experiencing further discomfort such as:
- Trouble moving the affected joint or limb
- Stubborn stiffness that won’t go away or improve
- Significant swelling
- Severe pain
- Notable muscle weakness
- Difficulty walking or completing daily tasks
So, what could an osteopath do? Osteopathy works with your muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments, manipulating them and treating any issues. Osteopathic care can help to relax stiff muscles and tendons, improve blood flow, and release any tension that could be causing you trouble.
Contact Excel Body & Health to Book an Osteo Appointment
If you’re concerned about the severity of your muscle tightness, help is readily available. Visiting an osteo clinic will ensure your body gets properly assessed for damage, and you can get your injury or stiffness treated by someone who understands comprehensive treatment. Don’t put up with pain a minute longer than you need to. Reach out to the Excel Body and Health team to book your first appointment and chat with a friendly osteopath about your health needs.