Why Do Muscles Feel Tight?

8 Apr, 2021

Muscle stiffness and muscle tightness are two of the most common complaints people have. Whether you are young or old, you can be affected by muscle symptoms. Usually, you’ll feel pain in the affected muscle or muscle groups and may be unable to do your regular activities. The stiffness and pain can be severe enough to affect your range of motion. We’ll look at some of the common causes of muscle tightness and how you can relive it. Often times the problem is nothing serious and requires no more than rest and some anti-inflammatory pain relievers.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is one of the most common causes of muscle tightness or pain. DOMS occurs after physical activity such as going to the gym, lifting weights or even just physical labour you were not used to. Typically the next day, you may already start to feel stiffness and muscle pains.

The exact mechanism and cause of DOMS is still debated. When your muscles are used for prolonged periods, microscopic tears can occur. These are repaired by your body, and over time your muscles can become stronger. However, in the meantime, you will feel the pain and stiffness that results from it. Others have suggested the symptoms occur due to a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles from prolonged activity.


Even seasoned athletes can experience DOMS. However, you can take some steps to lessen the severity of the pain and stiffness. Before any activity, it’s essential to warm up appropriately. Doing a round of stretching will get a good range of motion into the muscles and joints. Most importantly, try not to overdo it and work within your current fitness level. If you frequently get sore after workouts, it may be necessary to alter your routine and movement pattern. Taking steps for preventing muscle pain can go a long way.

Other Potential Causes of Muscle Soreness

Sometimes muscle soreness can occur without any physical cause and is when other conditions need to be considered. Polymyalgia Rheumatica is a rare and uncommon condition that can cause some muscle groups to become inflamed. People affected by it may be experiencing muscle pain and stiffness.People who are affected by the condition can experience fever, fatigue, aches and pains in the affected area, as well as a reduced range of motion. The condition is often treated with oral steroids. It occurs most often in individuals over the age of 50. It’s sometimes related to giant cell arteritis, which is another inflammatory condition. This means the cells in the arteries become inflamed. Blood flow through the arteries can be affected, resulting in muscle symptoms. It’s also been postulated that polymyalgia rheumatica could be a result of a viral infection.

When to See a Professional

While many cases of muscle tightness will clear on their own, sometimes you may need to see your doctor or a physiotherapist to help you with your recovery. If your muscles feel painful or feel tight for a long time, it could indicate a more serious issue. Your doctor will take a detailed history and order appropriate tests. At Gen Physio, we also have a team of experts that is well versed in treating a wide range of muscle and mobility-related conditions.

Our mobile physiotherapy services are provided in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Ipswich, Logan, Toowoomba and Gympie.


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