Muscle tightness is not something you should trifle with. They are painful muscle tensions that can occur in different areas of the body, such as the neck, shoulders, calves or back.
Here you will find out everything you need to know to recognize and treat muscle hardening. We also reveal here what you can do yourself. You will be surprised that many a miracle in 2021 can be performed from home, with simple exercises and precautions, and without any fuss.
the essentials in brief
- There are many causes of muscle tightness, and proper prevention and treatment is crucial.
- Muscle stiffness can feel powerless, but there are many effective solutions.
- Myogelosis is usually caused by overuse of the muscles or by stress.
Definition: What is a muscle spasm?
When a muscle hardens, also called myogelosis, the muscle fibers in the affected area become inflamed. In any case, what is certain is that there is enormous pain associated with muscle hardening.(1)
Athletes, people with arthrosis or people who work with physically demanding activities are particularly affected by muscle hardening.(1) Common areas of the body that are affected by myalgia are the following:
Muscle hardening manifests itself in that the muscles in the area are permanently tense and blood flow is restricted.(2) Muscle hardening in the body is often caused by imbalances. These muscular imbalances are caused by one-sided strain on the muscles, or by neglecting entire muscle regions.(2)
Background: What you should know about muscle hardening
Before we bring you closer to the best possible solutions, it makes sense to get an idea of what background information you should have about muscle hardening.
For this purpose we have answered the most frequently asked questions in a few paragraphs to clear up any remaining doubts.
What do I do with a muscle hardening?
In order to do something about muscle hardening, the cause of the problem must first be determined. If the muscle hardening is caused by sport, for example, it can be helpful to avoid further sport for a few days.(3)
However, don't just lie around and wait for the pain to go away. Movement helps and is important to release the unpleasant tension. It can even be just short walks that can work wonders. Also, a whole list of things can be listed that will help speed up healing:
- Trigger Point Therapy
- physical therapy
With most small muscle sores, the pain should subside within a few days. If the pain is still present on the fifth day, it is advisable to visit a doctor for professional advice.(3)
How can I prevent muscle hardening?
The best case, of course, is to prevent painful muscle hardening so that you don't get it in the first place. But how exactly can myogelosis be prevented? This is easy to do with a few simple implementations in everyday life.
For example, you can get enough magnesium. Magnesium is a valuable muscle mineral, the daily requirement for an adult is between 300 and 400 milligrams.(4)
If you are an athlete, you should also make sure that you drink enough water and warm up your muscles properly before training. Once the muscles are activated from the warm-up, it prevents tightening.(4)
However, it is also possible that stress can cause muscle hardening. Here you can do various relaxation methods, meditation exercises and targeted muscle relaxation methods for prevention.(4)
Why do I get muscle tightness?
On the one hand, muscle hardening can be caused by overstraining the muscles. This causes the muscle to tense up, resulting in severe pain. This happens most commonly in the shoulders, back, neck, thighs, and calves. But what exactly happens when you get a tight muscle?(5)
Be careful not to train too hard and too much. This is often the reason for muscle hardening. (Image Source: Unsplash / Jonathan Borba)
Fine blood vessels are compressed in the muscle fibers, causing circulatory disorders in the tissue. These circulatory disorders make it very difficult for by-products of the metabolism to be removed, which leads to inflammation. This inflammation then manifests itself in the form of stabbing or cramping pain.(5)
Muscle hardening also often restricts movement. However, myogelosis can also be caused by psychological problems. The most common cause of this is chronic stress. This often leads to severe muscle tension, which can ultimately lead to muscle hardening.(5)
Which medications help with muscle hardening?
In order to even consider drugs to treat muscle stiffness, the severity of the myogelosis must first be determined. In the case of brief muscle hardening, it is often not necessary to use medication. Magnesium usually helps more there.(6)
You shouldn't go straight to medication.
Another form of muscle tightening is persistent muscle tightening. There it can then be useful to use certain medications to get rid of the hardening or to relieve the pain. A common form of treatment is the injection of local anesthetics. On the other hand, certain pain medications can also be used.(6)
Local pain medications are then best suited, for example, an ointment can often be used for local treatment. For example, tablets are suitable for systemic use. There are also chronic muscle tensions that can often only be treated with medication.(6)
However, these medications should only be used during a persistent phase of pain. Long-term use of strong pain medication can easily lead to dependency, which is why the medication should be discontinued as early as possible.(6)
How long can I not exercise after a muscle hardening?
How long you are not allowed to exercise after a muscle hardening always depends on the severity of the muscle hardening. If you have a small muscle hardening caused by overloading the muscle, you should wait until the muscle hardening has subsided and you are no longer in pain, then you can train and do sports again.
The most important thing to remember is that you warm up well. The fact of the matter is that if you don't treat a muscle tightness, you'll end up with a much worse muscle tightness. Muscle tightness should therefore not be taken lightly.(7)
How does a muscle tightening feel?
Hardened muscles can be easily felt. The affected muscle parts then feel rock hard. Also, the symptoms of muscle tightening can be easily defined. There are different types of pain that can indicate muscle tightness.(8)
Firstly, there is biting and dull pain. For example, if muscles in the jaw area are hardened, most people experience a dull feeling of pressure. However, it can also be the case that recurring radiating pain can occur.(8)
For example, if the muscles in the neck area are affected, this can be expressed as back pain and headaches. The symptoms of myogelosis can also be extremely diffuse, so it is not always possible to find the actual hardening point.(8)
Muscle hardening in the chest muscles can manifest itself, for example, in digestive problems and abdominal pain. In general, careful diagnosis of muscle hardening is therefore extremely important. Muscle hardening requires a targeted treatment. Such tension almost never goes away on its own.(8)
When do I need to see a doctor if I have a hardened muscle?
You don't always have to go to a doctor if you have a muscle hardening, it is also possible to relieve the symptoms on your own. Oftentimes, just constant heat and drinking enough fluids is enough to ameliorate the discomfort. In general, the body should be spared until the symptoms are no longer too severe.(8)
A doctor should be consulted if muscle tightness persists and does not improve and may even get worse. A marked improvement should occur within the first few days, if not a doctor should be consulted. Symptoms of worsening condition include trouble sleeping and headaches.(8)
Muscle hardening: The best tips & tricks against muscle hardening
In order not to panic immediately when a muscle hardens, there are a few simple tips and tricks that we would like to teach you so that you can deal with the situation carefree in extreme cases.
Treat muscle hardening therapeutically
A typical treatment for myogelosis can be done with heat therapy. Wraps, heat plasters, warm baths or sauna visits are usually suggested for treatment. Heat expands the blood channels in the body, this process also stimulates the metabolism, which in turn ends in the muscles being able to relax.(9)
Therapy can also have a preventive effect.
However, it should be noted here that the positive and pleasant effects disappear again quite quickly after the heat is applied, i.e. the blood channels close again. This effect is called "rebound effect". So heat does not serve as a complete treatment, but rather as a pain-relieving option.(9)
Muscle tightness can also easily result from chronic stress. (Image source: Unsplash / Tim Gouw)
It is only important to loosen up the affected muscle. This is best done with fascia therapy. In fascia therapy, pressure is applied to that area so that the starting point of the hardened area can be found and the muscles there then loosened. Fascia balls or fascia rolls are required for this.(9)
Treat muscle tightness with creams or medication
When treating muscle hardening with creams or medication, there are different methods of applying them. Creams or medication are usually used in addition to therapeutic treatment.
There are different creams that can be used, for example heat creams that can help temporarily or creams that can generally reduce the pain locally. However, there is also an ointment that really actively helps to improve the affected area. The so-called horse ointment. This bears the name only because it was originally used to treat overworked sport horses.(10)
The ointment contains various plants such as camphor, menthol, arnica and rosemary. A horse ointment can be purchased at any pharmacy. The mode of action of the individual ingredients is as follows. Camphor and rosemary promote blood circulation. Menthol has a cooling effect and blocks pain receptors. Arnica has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. In combination, the ointment works wonders.(10)
When it comes to treating muscle tightness with medication, most medications are only there to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. The active ingredients diclofenac or ibuprofen, for example, can be used and can help to improve symptoms.(4)
If the pain is too severe and a doctor needs to be consulted, they have the option of prescribing muscle relaxants. These affect the muscles in such a way that they are then extremely relaxed and loosen the muscle.(4)
Muscle hardening can be very stressful and painful. But there are a few tips and tricks to avoid panicking immediately. Being certain about how a tight muscle can be solved and treated and what is actually happening in your body makes it easy to treat.
But a myology is also not something to be trifled with. If no treatment takes place, this can lead to ever worse muscle hardening, which can eventually become chronic. It is always advisable to consult a doctor. A correct diagnosis is the be-all and end-all when it comes to muscle hardening.