What Is Muscle stiffness?
When the muscles feel extremely tight and you have difficulty in moving freely, especially after a period of rest or you experience the loss of range of motion, it is known as muscle stiffness. Muscle stiffness may also be accompanied by cramps, pains and discomfort. Muscle stiffness can affect several parts of your body such as back, neck, shoulders, hips, legs, knees, calves, ankles, etc.
Muscle stiffness is deferent from spasticity or muscle rigidity, which cause the muscles to say stiff even if you’re not moving. Muscle stiffness can remain for a few minutes or for a prolonged period of time. Usually, the condition of muscle stiffness goes away by itself. The stiffness of muscles is not really a cause of concern and with some stretching, it will get better.
What Are The Symptoms Of Muscle stiffness?
Muscle stiffness is a symptom that is usually caused due to some underlying medical condition or due to injury. Some of the signs of muscle stiffness are:
- Limited mobility.
- Limited range of motion.
- Pain, redness and swelling.
- Reduced confidence to carry out normal activities.
What Are The Causes Of Muscle stiffness?
- Post-exercise, lifting weight or doing physical hard work.
- Long periods of being inactive such as when you get out of the chair after a long time of sitting or getting out of bed in the morning.
- Strains and sprains, injury due to extreme cold or heat.
- Insect stings and bites, infection.
- Medication or anaesthesia used for surgery.
Other causes of muscle stiffness
- Tetanus (bacterial infection), Meningitis (infection of brain and spinal cord)
- Infectious mononucleosis (mono), HIV infection
- Other infections such as polio, Legionnaires’ disease and valley fever
- Systemic lupus erythematosus, Polymyalgia rheumatica
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Muscle stiffness?
- Exercising regularly can help to prevent stiffness.
- Stretch your muscles and warm up before and after exercising.
- Wearing correct footwear while exercising can help to prevent muscle stiffness.
- Wear warm clothes when the weather is very cold.
- Practice maintaining good posture to prevent muscle stiffness.
- Use proper furniture at home and work that provide support and comfort and do not cause muscle stiffness.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Muscle stiffness?
- Avoid long periods of being inactive. Get up and walk around often to keep your muscles loose and reduce stiffness.
- If your muscles are stiff and sore, don’t overstretch them, as this can worsen the condition.
What Are The Best Foods For Muscle stiffness?
- Stay hydrated. Have plenty of water and fluids as dehydration causes more muscle stiffness and damage to the muscles.
- Magnesium and calcium are important for muscle health. Have foods that rich in calcium such as almond milk, regular milk, dairy foods, soy foods, soy milk, orange juice, salmon, etc. and foods rich in magnesium like avocados, nuts, fish, seeds, leafy green vegetables, bananas, etc. as they help to prevent muscle stiffness.
- Oranges are a good source of vitamin C that helps to fight free radicals, helps in muscle recovery and prevent muscle stiffness.
- Eating cherries and blueberries can help to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness and help them to recover quickly.
- Eating salmon, cod and other fish, which are a rich source of omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, help to reduce inflammation and muscle stiffness.
What Are The Worst Foods For Muscle stiffness?
- Reduce or eliminated saturated animal fats from your diet such as dairy products, red meat and eggs as they contain arachidonic acid which causes inflammation in the body and can worsen muscle stiffness.
- Avoid processed foods such as white bread, baked goods made of white flour, white rice, etc. as they use up the magnesium in the body and make muscle stiffness worse.
- Avoid sugar and sugary foods such as jellies, candy, tinned fruit, etc. as they trigger inflammation in the body and aggravate muscle stiffness.
- Avoid alcohol and beverages containing caffeine, as these use up the vital minerals and vitamins B and C in the body and trigger inflammation and worsen muscle stiffness.
What Are The Medicines For Muscle stiffness?
What Are The Tips To Manage Muscle stiffness?
Some simple remedies for muscle stiffness are:
- Rest the body until the body repairs itself and the muscle stiffness subsides.
- Using heat or ice pack alternatively can help to give relief from muscle stiffness. Heat helps to treat the tight muscles while cold helps to reduce the inflammation and swelling.
- Take warm showers or a warm bath.
- Stretching can help to improve the flexibility of the body and increases circulation and reduces stiffness.
- Massaging the stiff parts of the body can help to reduce the swelling and soreness by around 30%.
- Chiropractic adjustments can help to relax the muscles and reduce soreness and pain.
Some natural remedies that can help to relieve muscle stiffness are:
- Arnica oil contains thymol which is a vasodilator of the blood capillaries found in the subcutaneous region that help to transport blood and has anti-inflammatory properties and applying it in the form of oil, ointment, cream or salve can help to reduce muscle damage, stiffness and pain.
- Cannabis oil is a natural muscle relaxer and inhibits neuronal transmission in the pain pathways and helps to relieve chronic inflammation, pain and muscle stiffness.
- Peppermint oil is a natural muscle relaxant and painkiller and can help to calm the sore muscles. Dilute the peppermint oil in coconut or jojoba oil and apply it to the affected areas to relieve muscle stiffness.
- Essential oils like lemongrass oil, cypress and frankincense oil also improve the blood circulation, reduce muscle spasms and pain and help to lessen muscle stiffness.
- Having a soak in warm water with a cup of Epsom salt with magnesium can help to relax the muscles and relieve muscle stiffness.
- Ginger helps to stimulate the circulatory system and promoted flexibility. It also helps to reduce inflammation. So, adding fresh ginger to your diet or drinking ginger tea can help to lessen muscle stiffness.
- Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and improves circulation and is great for muscle repair, flexibility and also helps to alleviate muscle stiffness.
- Eating pineapple can help to relieve muscle soreness and stiffness as it contains the enzyme bromelain which has anti-inflammatory properties and can give short-term relief. This is also available in the form of a supplement.
- Kava kava is a ground root which contains chemicals known as kavalactones that help to relax the muscles and relieve pain and stiffness. However, consumption of too much of kava kava can cause liver damage and must be used with caution.