Stiffness of muscles is not a serious condition, but it does make normal chores of lifting objects or climbing stairs feel like a strenuous exercise. If you have experienced stiffness in muscles along with muscle soreness and pain, then the most common reason behind this is a workout or DORM.
Stiffness from a Workout
A person might experience muscle stiffness during a workout, which is a sign of fatigue. If you are experiencing stiffness in muscles after a workout, then this is actually good news. This happens due to lactic acid buildup, and is a sign pointing to a good workout, so nothing much to worry about.
Such stiffness goes away after you stop your workout. However, you can follow some home treatment measures to ease your stiffness, like a massage or hot compress.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DORM) occurs when you do weightlifting or strength training and use muscles you haven't used for a long time. People who are new to exercising or haven't been exercising, experience this a lot.
Also, when you add a new exercise or add more intensity to your workout, this condition is experienced. For example, if you add more weight to the arm weightlifting exercises, you might have stiff hand muscles. DORM is mostly thought to be caused by micro-tears in the muscle fiber, contrary to the popular belief of build-up of lactic acid.
The severity of DORM reduces after 2 days, but it can last sometimes for 4 days. However, it is not a good idea to stop exercising just because you had stiff muscles, as this decreases your threshold to sustain injury. So it is recommended that you continue to perform the same workouts without straining yourself.
Another reason for this condition is when your body remains in the same posture for long. For example, you might experience muscle stiffness after sitting for long periods of time without taking a break.
Experiencing muscle soreness in the morning is also pretty common, as we tend to sleep in one posture for many hours. So following a proper posture while sleeping is advisable.
To get rid of stiff muscles and joints, you can follow some stretching exercises for 10-15 minutes and concentrate on relaxed breathing while stretching. Sun salutation yoga is a great way to start your day and get rid of the stiffness.
A person might also experience muscle cramps due electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes basically means sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. So when one sweats, he/she loses these valuable electrolytes from the body. This can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which can cause muscle cramps and stiffness.
So load yourself on electrolytes and drink adequate amounts of water to prevent muscle cramps. There are many hydration products to balance your electrolytes level that come in the form of powder, tablet, drinks, etc. Choose appropriately.
There can be many other reasons for muscle stiffness. For example, a person who does not follow the right posture or technique while performing squats or lifting weights might get more cramps than the one who follows the right technique and posture. Also, working out excessively can cause muscle strain and soreness.
Certain medical conditions, like fibromyalgia can cause muscle and joint pain and stiffness. In case you experience muscle pain due to certain medical conditions, you need to seek treatment from a specialist.
Here are some home treatment methods to get relief from sore muscles.
- Drinking Water: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and keep sipping water while you workout. You can also consume sports drink, however consult your doctor before you do this.
- Rest: Make sure you get 8 hours sleep daily.
- Hot Compress: Apply a hot compress to the stiff muscles a couple of times a day.
- Steam: You can also consider taking steam for about 10 minutes to relieve the stiffness.
- Light Massage: A light massage can greatly help to get rid of soreness.
- Painkiller: If the pain is too much then take an OTC painkiller, like ibuprofen.
- Light Exercises: You can also do some stretching and aerobic exercises without straining too much.
- Balanced Diet: It is important that you follow a balanced diet. Make sure you include a lot of fruits and vegetables in your diet so that you get enough antioxidants.
- Practice the Right Posture: Make sure you sit straight and keep the monitor at your eye level if you have a desk job.
If you suffer from stiff muscles which last for a week, or have signs of infection like redness and swelling around a muscle, severe muscle strain or rupture, rash, or muscle pain after taking a medication, or high fever and muscle weakness, then it is important to see the doctor right away as these symptoms could be pointing to other medical condition(s).
Disclaimer: The information provided here should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.