Maybe you’ve worked extra hard all day, or you had to sit a lot longer than you’re used to. It could be all the stress you’re carrying on your shoulders.
Whatever the cause of it, your muscles are tight, and you’re feeling the pain. How can you loosen those knots and feel better?
Sore muscles happen for many reasons, but the results are never fun. What you’re dealing with is known as muscle tension, and it occurs when your body’s muscle(s) stay contracted for too long.
It happens to everyone at some point in their lives. Some cases are mild, and some can be dangerous enough to trigger serious side effects. If your tight muscles interfere with your day, try these four methods to relax them.
1. Use Moist Heat
One of the quickest ways to loosen a tight muscle is with moist heat. The heat of any kind relaxes us, which is why you feel so carefree laying out in the sun on a gorgeous day at the beach or by the pool. But moist heat has particularly therapeutic effects on your body’s soft tissue.
Moist heat increases the flexibility in soft tissue, so it’s often used before workouts to help avoid muscle injury. When it’s too late, though, and your muscles are tense, you can use it to soothe muscle spasms and stiff joints.
Start by taking a hot bath in water doused with Epsom salt if you can. Turn the lights off and relax by candlelight for 15-20 minutes. For extra soothing benefits, use calming scents like lavender, jasmine, or chamomile, and play some restful music in the background. Just be sure not to fall asleep!
A hot shower works almost as well if you’re not a bath person. When you’re done with your relaxing home spa treatment, soak a towel in hot water and wring it out thoroughly. Then, place the towel over a layer of cloth on the painful area. Watch TV or read a book while you let the warmth seep into your muscles.
2. Stretch and Knead the Muscles
Light cardio exercise without overdoing it, such as a brisk walk or 15 minutes on the treadmill, can relax the muscles. However, don’t forget to stretch and warm up first, or you can worsen the problem.
Yoga stretches are another excellent way to reduce muscle tension. Because yoga is often done in a peaceful environment, it helps lighten your stress naturally. The stretches are designed to pull and release muscles and increase flexibility gently.
After your light exercise and stretching, work the knots out with an at-home massage. Use your hands or a tennis ball to rub and knead the painful area. You’ll probably feel the “knot” of muscles under your skin. Work it out gradually by going back and forth over it until you feel it release.
3. Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter and natural relievers work in multiple ways. Those with acetaminophen, like Tylenol, take away the pain. Others, such as magnesium, are muscle relaxants that loosen the tension in your body.
Anti-inflammatories work well if your muscle aches are caused by inflammation. Curcumin and Vitamin D do this naturally, and OTC NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) may also help. OTC NSAIDs include medication with ibuprofen, like Advil, or naproxen, like Aleve.
4. Get Restful Sleep
The Catch-22 with sleep and tight muscles is that the discomfort keeps you tossing and turning, and the restless sleep increases the pain. Your body uses the time spent in deep slumber to regenerate and repair your cells and rebuild damaged muscle.
When you’re sick or in pain, it’s not laziness that causes you to want to sleep more. It’s your body’s natural response to the problem.
Your brain knows you need to rest to recover, so it kicks in to convince you you’re tired. And it’s true. Your body is working extra hard to function normally while it’s attempting to repair the damage under the surface.
If your insomnia is due to pain, an occasional nighttime pain reliever, like Advil PM, could help. But if it continues for a while, consider talking to your doctor about stronger options, such as medical marijuana (MMJ).
MMJ is frequently prescribed for those who suffer from sleepless nights and pain, and you have both. This article by Veriheal gives more information on the link between insomnia and cannabis.
Muscle tension is a common ailment, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to deal with. If you ignore it, what starts out in one area can quickly extend into other parts of your body. Soon, you’re having expanded issues that started from one sore muscle.
Instead of ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away, try these four simple techniques to relax your tight muscles.