Our team of experienced physiotherapists at Physiomobility are trained to provide targeted and effective therapy to alleviate pain and improve flexibility. Tight and sore muscles are a common condition that affect our population. Tight muscles can be referred to as muscle stiffness, which may be due to poor posture, inactivity, or overuse. On the other hand, sore muscles are a result of muscle damage. This happens through physical activity or extensive exercise that the muscle is not accustomed to.
In case you are experiencing this, here are five easy and effective treatments you can utilize at home in order to relieve pain, and facilitate a healing response:
1. Static & Dynamic Stretching for Tight Muscles
Stretching is the most widely used technique primarily for tight muscles. It involves the manual lengthening of a group of muscle fibers through their full range of motion. There are two main stretching techniques known as static and dynamic stretching. Static stretching involves holding the stretched position between fifteen to thirty seconds and tensions placed on the muscle during it are of a mild intensity. Through completion of the stretches, the muscles that were once tight now have improved flexibility as the muscle fibers are more pliable. This allows for greater range of motion and less resistance. Static stretching can also be helpful post workout to facilitate recovery through improved circulation to the muscle. Dynamic stretching includes active movements through the muscles full range of motion. It can help reduce muscle stiffness prior to physical activity.
One must be cautious to not overstretch an excessively tight or sore muscle as improper execution may lead to injury. To find a stretching program that is personalized, you may contact a physical therapist who will assess your muscle flexibility and stretch and develop a program for your needs.
2. Massage Therapy for Chronic Pain
Massage therapy is a type of manual therapy applied to the soft tissues of the body. It is a drug-free, non-invasive form of treatment administered by a massage therapist. There are a variety of massage treatments that may be most effective for your muscles needs. For example, a deep tissue massage is best suited to relieve pain in those with chronic pain and muscle tightness. A myofascial release massage would be most effective where muscle stiffness may be caused by adhesions formed in the fascia. This would result in tension being released and improved mobility of the tissues. For muscles that are sore and overworked, a sports massage can be very effective by reducing inflammation, improving circulation, preventing fatigue and overall reducing the risk of injury. There are many other types of massage therapies that may be best for your muscles needs. This includes a Swedish massage, relaxation massage, hot stone massage and a prenatal or postpartum massage. At Physiomobility, we can help decide the most optimal treatment with a free consultation.
3. Heat to Reduce Pain
Applying heat to the muscle is a very common way to reduce pain from sore and tight muscles. Heat packs may be electronic and heat up automatically, or it may be manually required to warm in a microwave for under a minute. It primarily works by dilating the blood vessels to promote blood flow to a targeted muscle or even a specific part of it. It helps to reduce tension, muscle spasms, joint stiffness and relax the muscle fibers. Heat facilitates the removal of lactic acid buildup after exercise. Application of the pack must be with a sleeve or towel as it should never be applied directly to the skin. Heat pads can be placed for periods of fifteen to twenty minutes.
4. Compression Stockings to Provide Support
Compression involves the usage of a garment placed around a muscle which results in a controlled pressure being applied. Examples of this include arm sleeves, socks or stockings, leggings, and tops. Compression garments are believed to be effective in treating tight muscles by providing support and stability to the area. This can help to improve blood flow, which can bring oxygen and nutrients to the muscle fibers and aid in the recovery process. Compression also produces a gentle massage effect, which can help to improve range of motion and flexibility in sore muscles. It also reduces inflammatory cells such as lymphocytes and neutrophils to reduce additional soreness. If one is required to work through muscle soreness in their required daily activities, a compression garment will be helpful as it stabilizes the array of fibers during recovery, reduces muscle oscillation and improves joint awareness.
5. Ultrasounds for Muscles
Ultrasound is a therapy that uses high frequency sound waves being applied to the muscles. The process of it includes the patient lying down and the therapist applies a gel to the desired area. Next, the therapist uses a device known as a transducer to lightly press on the muscle in circular motions to deliver the ultrasound waves to the area. The treatment typically lasts between ten to fifteen minutes. The intensity of the treatment is decided under the guidance of a medical professional to be optimally personalized for the patient
There are two main settings in which ultrasound is operated. The first is a pulsed setting. In this setting, the transducer sends out short bursts of ultrasound energy, rather than a steady stream. This setting has shown to improve soft tissue healing, increase metabolic activity of fibroblasts and speed healing of superficial lesions which are most optimal for sore muscles that are recovering. The other setting involves the transducer sending a continuous stream of energy to a desired muscle. This produces more of a heating effect on the tissue with the main goal of increasing blood flow. This reduces muscle stiffness and pain, relaxes the muscles, and lowers inflammation. The treatment also helps prevent muscle spasms to improve your muscle’s overall range of motion.
There are a variety of potential treatments that may be beneficial for your muscle’s needs. To safely find out which treatment is most optimal for you, please contact Physiomobility at 416-444-4800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Written by Sagar Dama, BSc Kinesiology