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There’s muscle tissue in nearly all parts of the body, so muscle pain can occur anywhere
Muscle pain, also known as myalgia, is an extremely common form of pain that almost all of us will have experience at some point during our lives. Around 18 million people in the UK live with ongoing conditions that cause problems like muscle pain¹ .
Muscle pain is usually a form of acute pain; pain with a clear source that once healed will no longer cause an issue. Because the body contains so many different muscles, there is no single explanation for muscle aches and pains, however the most common are:
Muscle tension – This is the most common cause of muscle pain and is often triggered by stress. Muscle tension is a condition where muscles remain semi-contracted when they should be relaxed. This causes sharp pain, which can greatly hinder mobility. Muscles may remain tense for hours or even days, and the longer they remain tense the more painful they’ll be.
Muscle overuse – Muscle pain after exercise is a common complaint. Sports injuries can easily occur if muscles have not been warmed up thoroughly enough and then become over-extended during the course of the activity.
Muscle strain – Muscle injuries or strains have much in common with muscle overuse and occur when a muscle is overstretched or torn, perhaps due to fatigue or improper use of the muscle. Although strains can happen to any muscle on the body, they’re often found in the lower back, neck and shoulder; and the hamstring at the back of the thigh. This might be because these muscles are not always fully extended during regular daily activities.
Skipping warmups and cool downs – Again, this cause of pain is firmly linked to physical activity. Muscles are able to stretch further and more safely when they are warm, which is why we should always stretch before exercise to avoid injury. Cooling down after exercise promotes relaxation and removes any tension from the muscles in their tired state.
In addition to the categories above, there are a number of recognised medical conditions that can cause chronic muscle pain. These include:
A good way to relieve muscle pain, and to prevent muscle pain occurring, is to stretch regularly. Most of us do this before exercise but it’s something that can done daily to help with muscle pain.
Stretch a muscle until you feel its tension, then hold that position for up to one minute before releasing. When you’re stretching, breathe deeply to make sure that oxygen is getting to the muscles.
It’s advisable to get up and stretch regularly, particularly if you work at a desk or are spending lots of time static in one position. Remember to stay hydrated too.
There are many tried and tested simple home remedies that can help with muscle pain.
If the pain persists; is severe; you notice redness or a rash; or experience a temperature with your muscle pain, consult a medical professional.
If your muscle pain is combined with a fever, vomiting, weak muscles or stiffness in the neck, this could be a sign of a medical emergency and you should get to a hospital as soon as possible.