How to release tension from your muscles: 7 tips for relief

Do you find it difficult to move, bend and stretch? It’s time to find out how to relieve muscle tension in order to improve flexibility and release stiffness.
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Your muscles can hold tension as well! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Aayushi Gupta Published: 1 Apr 2024, 08:59 am IST
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Have you ever felt your muscles tighten and stiffen, almost as if they were being pulled? Well, muscle tension can stem from various factors like stress, over-exertion, dehydration, and more. It can feel like an ache or discomfort, coupled with a sense of tightness. Chronic muscle tension can even limit your range of motion, making simple movements challenging. While you may believe that muscle tension occurs in older individuals only, the truth is that it can affect people of all age groups. But as long as you know what causes the muscle stress and how to relieve muscle tension, you will be able to deal with the pain.

What causes muscle tension and stiffness?

1. Stress and anxiety

Most people are not aware of it but mental stress and anxiety can manifest physically, leading to muscle stiffness and tension. When the body is under stress, it releases cortisol, known as the stress hormone, which can cause muscles to tighten.

2. Poor posture

Spending long hours sitting at a desk or standing with poor posture can strain muscles and lead to tension and stiffness, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and back.

3. Over-exercising

Engaging in strenuous physical activity or lifting heavy objects without proper form can strain muscles, causing them to tighten and become stiff.

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Over exercising can cause muscle tension. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Dehydration

Lack of proper hydration can affect muscle function and increase the likelihood of muscle cramps and tension.

5. Lack of movement

Prolonged periods of inactivity, such as sitting for too long without breaks, can cause muscles to become stiff and tense.

6. Underlying health conditions

Conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and muscle disorders can contribute to chronic muscle tension and stiffness.

7. Injury

Accidents, injuries, or trauma to the muscles can lead to tension and stiffness as part of the body’s natural healing process.

7 tips to relieve muscle tension

1. Stretching exercises

If your muscles hurt and you find it hard to move, regular stretching exercises can help alleviate muscle tension and improve flexibility. Focus on stretching major muscle groups, such as the neck, shoulders, back, and legs, by incorporating gentle stretches into your routine. It will help warm up muscles and move easily.

2. Massage

High levels of stiffness and tension in muscles can shorten the muscle fibre and restrict movement. “Massaging your muscles can be an effective way to release muscle tension and promote relaxation,” says health and fat loss coach Jashan Vij. It helps increase the temperature of soft tissues so that tight muscles can be loosened.

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3. Heat therapy

Applying heat to tense muscles can help increase blood flow and relax the muscles. You can use a heating pad, warm towel, or take a warm bath to soothe areas of muscle tension and discomfort. Alternatively, try using a heat wrap or topical heat rub for instant relief.

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Heat therapy is best to release tension from msucles. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Cold therapy

Cold therapy, such as applying ice packs or cold compresses to the affected areas, can also help reduce inflammation and numb the area to alleviate pain associated with muscle tension. Be sure to wrap the ice pack in a cloth to prevent skin damage from direct contact with the cold. Consult your doctor before using a cold compress to alleviate the discomfort.

5. Reduce stress

Stress is the biggest factor behind muscle tension, stiffness, or soreness. So, to reduce stress and tension in both the mind and body, practise relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. You can also indulge in mindfulness-based practises to promote muscle relaxation.

Also read: Tight muscles? Try these 5 moves to release stiffness with a foam roller

6. Stay hydrated

Maintaining proper hydration and a balanced diet rich in nutrients can support muscle health and function. Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, which can contribute to muscle cramps and tension. You can also incorporate foods high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium to support muscle relaxation and prevent stiffness.

7. Exercises and yoga poses

Performing a few light exercises and yoga poses can also help relieve muscle tension. Here are 7 exercises that you may consider, according to Vij:

1. Neck roll: Gently roll the neck in circular motions to release tension in the neck and upper back muscles.

2. Shoulder shrug: Lift the shoulders towards the ears, hold briefly, and then release to relieve tension in the shoulder and neck muscles.

3. Forward fold: Bend forward from the hips, allowing the spine to lengthen and the muscles of the back to stretch, relieving tension in the lower back and hamstrings.

4. Child’s pose: Sit back on the heels with arms stretched forward, allowing the spine to stretch out and the muscles of the back to relax.

5. Cat cow pose: Alternate between arching and rounding the back while on all fours (hands and knees) to release tension and improve flexibility in the spine.

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Cat cow pose is best to stretch spine. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

6. Standing forward bend: Bend forward from the hips while standing to stretch the entire back body and relieve tension in the spine and hamstrings.

7. Seated spinal twist: Sit with legs extended, twist the torso to one side, and hold, then switch sides to release tension in the spine and improve mobility.

Along with the tips mentioned above, incorporating these exercises into your routine can greatly alleviate muscle tension and promote overall well-being!

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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