Muscle stiffness is when your muscles feel tight and you find it more difficult to move than usual, especially after rest. You may also have muscle pains, cramping, and discomfort.
This is different from muscle rigidity and spasticity. With these two symptoms, your muscles stay stiff even when you’re not moving.
Muscle stiffness usually goes away on its own. You may find relief from stiff muscles with regular exercise and stretching. But in some cases, muscle stiffness can be a sign of something more serious, especially if there are other symptoms present.
So, what can we do for all those tight and achy muscles without resorting to painkillers and their many nasty side-effects? Here are some of my favorite natural ways to relax tense muscles:
Spray Them with Magnesium Oil.
While it is called an oil, it is actually a combination of the mineral magnesium chloride diluted in distilled water. Since muscle tightness is often a sign of a magnesium deficiency addressing the deficiency is arguably the best way to deal with the tension.
According to research in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the average woman gets only 68 percent of the magnesium she actually needs. And, the amount for men would likely be comparable. In my personal and clinical experience, the best and fastest way to absorb magnesium is to apply it topically to the skin. You can rub a drop or two onto the areas that are tense or spray it on the affected area. Leg cramps, foot spasms, and even tight shoulders often significantly relax within 10 to 20 minutes. Magnesium oil is found in most health food stores. You can also take an epsom salt bath for a magnesium boost.
Drink Some Fresh Ginger Tea.
Ginger is one of the best herbs for muscle pain, inflammation and tightness. Ginger contains compounds that have anti-spasmodic properties, helping to alleviate the spasm underlying tense muscles. Coarsely chop a 2 inch piece of ginger and boil in a quart or two of water for 45 minutes. Strain and drink three cups daily. Alternatively, you can supplement with ginger capsules or tincture. Follow package instructions for the specific product you choose. Consult with your physician if you are taking blood thinning drugs.
Stretch It Out.
Frequently, stretching out tense muscles will help them to release. Ideally, hold the muscle in the stretched position. Repeat. Even if you’re unable to do yoga, some basic stretches can go a long way toward easing the tension in muscles.
Breath in Fresh Oxygen.
Deep breathing can help slow the body’s production of stress hormones that are often involved in keeping muscles overly tense. It also helps to deliver oxygen-rich blood that improves the circulation in tight areas. Even a minute or two of deep (but not forced) breathing can help release tension. Breathe through your nose and into your abdomen. Your belly should raise on the in-breath. Then, exhale completely.
Acupress Your Way to Relief.
Find the belly of the muscle and hold the area firmly with finger pressure. It may take a minute or two but the muscle will often relax significantly with acupressure—the needle-free form of acupuncture. There are many excellent books that show many of the best acupressure points for addressing muscle pain and tightness, but even without them, if you just hold the tightest, sorest spot on the muscles you’ll often feel improvement, usually quite quickly. You may need to hold the affected area a few times for maximum results. Of course, avoid this approach if you have any open wounds in the area or injured muscles, soft tissues, or bone in the affected area.