Muscle stiffness can occur for several reasons, and before choosing a treatment, it is important to determine the cause. The most common cause of muscle stiffness is overuse of those muscles, or a lack of conditioning of those muscles. The muscles can either become built up with lactic acid, or they may simply tighten as they tire. In most cases, rest is an effective treatment for combating muscle stiffness, but in more severe cases, other treatment options are available. Ensuring you are getting all the nutrients you need from your diet, and making sure you are staying properly hydrated will help prevent muscle stiffness in the future.
If muscles are not conditioned and used regularly, they are likely to become weaker. Weak muscles have a tendency to tire quickly, and when muscles tire, they tend to tighten. To avoid stiffness, one should participate in a regular workout routine that will strengthen the muscles and prevent them from tiring quickly. Tight, tired muscles are also more likely to become injured, and muscle strains can occur easily. The strains occur when the tiny fibers that make up a muscle begin to tear, causing pain and limited mobility. Strengthening and conditioning muscles will help prevent damage to the muscles as well as stiffness in the muscles.
Sometimes muscle stiffness is due to lactic acid build-up in the muscles. Lactic acid is a by-product of burned glycogen, which is the body's preferred fuel source during intense activity. Muscle soreness and stiffness is likely during or after intense workouts and the stiffness may last for several days. Staying properly hydrated before, during, and after can help relieve stiffness and prevent it from happening again. Ensuring the body has sufficient electrolytes, chemicals the body relies on during physical activity, ncan also help reduce the likelihood of stiffness in the muscles during and after exercise.
Light stretching should be done before and after exercise as well to keep the muscles from tightening and becoming injured. Stretching can also help promote blood flow to the muscles, which in turn encourages oxygen delivery. The muscles need oxygen to operate properly; without sufficient flow of oxygen, the risk of stiffness or injury is greatly increased.
Examine your diet to ensure you are eating foods that contain the vitamins and minerals your body needs to operate properly. Sodium, potassium, and calcium are all important electrolytes muscles and bones need for strength, so be sure your diet includes these things. Be sure to include plenty of water and avoid sugary foods and drinks.