How to Relieve Muscle Tension

Are you struggling to reach new performance levels, or simply tired of feeling sore all the time? The root of the problem could be unresolved muscle tension. 

Muscle tension is one of the most common issues that slows athletes and active people down. Knowing how to relieve muscle tension before it becomes a more serious problem is one of the best ways to stay in your best shape and reach higher goals.  

Read on to learn 12 natural and effective ways to soothe sore muscles and get back to living your most active life.

What is Muscle Tension?

If you're pushing your limits day in and day out, you've probably faced the challenge of muscle tension more times than you can count. 

Muscle tension is that stubborn, uncomfortable sensation that can linger for days after a tough workout. But muscle tension can also become a chronic issue where your muscles constantly feel tight and tense even when you are in recovery mode or taking it easy with your training. 

On a more scientific level, muscle tension occurs when muscles remain semi-contracted for an extended period, leading to a sensation of stiffness or tightness. This is usually a response to physical overuse, stress, or other factors, where muscle fibers contract but don't fully relax. It may sound counterintuitive, but this tension is often your muscles’ way of protecting themselves to avoid injury.

What Causes Muscle Tension?

Muscle tension can develop for different reasons: overuse, underuse, stress, and even dehydration can all cause this irritating stiffness. 

But muscle tension isn’t just a physical sensation – it’s a complex physiological response that can affect any athlete or active person. At its core, muscle tension can be both a symptom and a signal from our body, indicating anything from the need for rest to an underlying imbalance. 

Let's explore the science behind the common causes of muscle tension, providing insights into how our bodies work and what they need from us to perform optimally:

  • Overuse and Repetitive Motion

Repetitive activities or pushing your muscles hard during workouts can lead to microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. This is a natural part of muscle growth and strength-building. However, the repair process requires time, and without adequate rest, inflammation and tension build as the body attempts to protect and repair the overworked muscle tissue. This protective response can lead to stiffness and discomfort – your body’s way of asking for rest and recovery.

  • Stress and Emotional Tension

Did you know your mental state can affect your muscles? Stress triggers the release of cortisol and adrenaline, hormones that prepare the body for a “fight or flight” response. This response causes muscles to tense up so they are ready to react to a dangerous situation. When we live with chronic stress, this keeps the muscles in a constant state of being “on guard” and later develops into muscle fatigue, pain, and tension. 

  • Poor Posture and Ergonomics

Spending long hours in front of a computer, frequently using your smartphone, or staying in any position that puts unnatural strain on the body (such as too much sitting or standing) can lead to muscle tension. Poor posture and ergonomics are key culprits here. When you have poor posture, this strains certain muscle groups because the body has to work harder to support its structure in these unnatural positions. Over time, this continuous strain can cause muscle imbalances, where some muscles become overly tight and others weakened (which leads to tension). 

  • Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalance

Muscles need proper hydration and a balance of electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium to function well. These elements also play a crucial role in muscle contraction and relaxation. When the body is dehydrated, or there's an electrolyte imbalance, muscles may not relax properly, leading to cramps and tension. 

  • Lack of Movement and Sedentary Lifestyle

Just like too much exercise can lead to tension, so can too little. Regular movement is crucial for maintaining muscle flexibility and preventing tension. Without regular activity, muscles can become tight and prone to injury when they are suddenly called into action.

    How to Relieve Muscle Tension: 12 Ways to Move with Ease 

    The best way to fight muscle tension is to take a holistic and preventative approach. Along with relieving your pain, the following tips can also help you elevate your performance, speed up recovery and, most importantly, keep those injuries at bay.

    Therapies that Relieve Muscle Tension

    1. Acupuncture

    One of the most sought-after therapies of Traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and trigger point therapy is a powerful way to relieve pain and tension. Acupuncture works by stimulating nerves, muscles and connective tissue. It also releases pain-killing endorphins, enhances blood flow and encourages the relaxation and release of painful trigger points


    2. Massage Therapy

    Like acupuncture, massage therapy also stimulates muscles and soft tissues to ease muscle tension. It improves circulation, enhances flexibility, and helps flush out toxins, contributing to faster recovery and better muscle function. An added benefit of massage therapy is stress relief, which helps prevent stress-induced muscle contraction and tension.

    3. Heat Therapy

    Applying heat to tense muscles can be incredibly soothing and a quick way to reduce muscle stiffness. Heat therapy works by increasing blood flow to the area, which helps to relax muscle fibers and relieve discomfort. Try warm baths, saunas, or hot packs.

    Herbal Remedies that Relieve Muscle Tension

    4. Flexibili-Tea Herb Pack

    A simple way to improve your overall flexibility and muscle resilience is by drinking Flexibili-Tea daily. This herbal blend helps promote flexible and limber muscles, tendons and ligaments. Brew up a large batch to sip throughout the week – especially before and after your workouts.

    5. Ancestors Advanced Dit Da Jow

    For everyday muscle tension relief or prevention, consider our Ancestors Advanced formula. This formula contains pain-relieving herbs that promote effective muscle recovery whether you are hitting the gym or just going about daily life.

    6. Ho Family Dit Da Jow

    Ho Family Dit Da Jow is a go-to topical formula for moderate muscle tension relief. If you are increasing your training or tend to feel particularly sore after workouts, this formula not only accelerates your healing process but also significantly enhances your conditioning.

    Foods that Relieve Muscle Tension

    7. Cherries and Cherry Juice

    Did you know that the foods you eat can have an impact on muscle recovery and tension? Cherries are one of the best foods to eat to prevent muscle soreness, as they are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Add tart cherry juice (unsweetened) to your post-workout smoothie or mix with water to rehydrate after intense exercise to prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

    8. Fatty Fish

    Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fish like salmon or mackerel can fight inflammation and aid in muscle recovery.

    9. Leafy Greens

    Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are high in magnesium, a mineral that's crucial for muscle relaxation and preventing cramps.

    Self-Care that Relieves Muscle Tension

    10. Epsom Salt or Herbal Baths

    Epsom salt baths are a relaxing way to ease muscle tension. Epsom salt contains high levels of magnesium, which can be absorbed through the skin to help relax and soothe sore muscles and ease pain. For a more powerful way to warm up sore muscles, soak sore areas in our Warming Herbal Foot Bath. This formula works great as a soak for aching feet and calves, but you can also brew it as a tea, soak it into a cloth or towel, then apply as a compress to sore shoulders or back and neck muscles.

    11. Regular Stretching

    Stretching is non-negotiable when it comes to preventing or managing muscle tension. Even a few minutes each day keeps your muscles flexible and your blood flowing. Incorporate dynamic stretching before your workouts to prepare your muscles and static stretching afterward to cool down and prevent stiffness.

    12. Quality Sleep

    Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep for muscle recovery. Sleep is when your body heals and repairs itself, so prioritizing restful sleep is essential for overcoming muscle tension and preparing you for your next challenge.

    Ready to Relieve Muscle Tension Naturally?

    Knowing how to relieve muscle tension can give you a competitive edge or simply take the pain out of living an active life. Use these tips and herbal products to keep your muscles functioning well and feeling good through spring and beyond!

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