Aches and pains are a part of life. But when those aches and pains become more frequent and are not explained away by exercise or injury, they can become frustrating - and sometimes a little bit distressing.
Sore muscles are one of the side effects of living with anxiety. Anxiety creates an environment inside your body that puts a great deal of strain on your muscles and joints and can lead to many aches and pains. This article will explore the causes and solutions for these types of sore muscles.
Do You Have Muscle Soreness?
Sore muscles prevent you from going out and living a quality life, and living a quality life is necessary to overcome anxiety. Our free 7 minute anxiety test will score the severity of your anxiety and its symptoms, and provide you with treatment ideas.
The Anxiety of Anxiety Symptoms
Sore muscles are just one example of an anxiety symptom that causes more anxiety. When you wake up sore and dealing with pain, you start to worry about the causes of that pain and how much it will impact your life. You're also less likely to be active and more likely to allow yourself to succumb to the stress.
That's why you need to stop your anxiety at its source if you want to gain control over your future stress and anxiety levels. Preventing anxiety prevents the symptoms, and that prevents further anxiety. If you haven't yet, start my free 7 minute anxiety test to learn more.
Causes of Sore Muscles
Anxiety causes numerous stress symptoms. Several of these symptoms can lead to the development of sore muscles. Just a small sample of the potential causes includes:
- Clenching and Tension The primary way that anxiety causes sore muscles is that it leads to significant muscle tension. During periods of anxiety, your body prepares for fight or flight mode as though you're in a dangerous situation. When doing so, it tenses your muscles for rapid action. Over time, that tension and clenching can lead to knots and muscle aches that may become very painful if left untreated.
- Inactivity Physical activity is a crucial part of maintaining your mental health - more than many people realize. Stress also tends to decrease the amount of physical activity that people are willing to engage in. Without movement or exercise, the muscles are unable to release excess energy, and they become tense and stressed.
- Stress Adjusting Stress can also cause you to shift, sit, or stand in ways that aren't as beneficial for your body. Often you're adjusting in order to reduce another symptom (such as sitting uncomfortably to reduce anxiety-related chest pains), and while you may get some relief, you're also putting strain on your muscles.
- Sleep Deprivation Anxiety and stress may also make it difficult to fall asleep. Sleep deprivation is known to increase muscle aches, because the muscles don't have time to heal properly as they usually would at night. Sleep deprivation also leads to further stress, causing greater levels of tension.
These are all some of the many reasons that anxiety may create muscle tension, and ultimately sore muscles. Anxiety also may make you more aware of how your muscles feel. In some cases, you may be experiencing normal soreness for the way you were sitting or standing, but anxiety causes you to feel as though the soreness is unusual or caused by something more serious.
How to Address Muscle Soreness
Despite anxiety causing muscle soreness, these aches and pains can be treated the same way you would treat any normal aches and pains:
- Stretching Stretching each morning or before you go to sleep can be beneficial. When you warm up your muscles they become less likely to experience tension and aching.
- Water and Nutrients Eating healthy and drinking water nourish the muscles, making it easier for them to relax.
- Exercise/Activity Exercise may cause sore muscles in their own way, but the soreness tends to be less problematic and troublesome when it's caused by intense exercise compared to when it's caused by stress.
- OTC Painkillers When you sore muscles need extra help to relax, over the counter painkillers may be useful. Drugs like Tylenol provide the same relief to sore muscles from anxiety as they would to sore muscles from any other problem, because they reduce the inflammation that causes the aches and pains.
- Massage Getting a massage may be a more enjoyable and relaxing way to work out muscle tension and pains. Many people find massage to also be very soothing in a way that other muscle treatments are not.
You should also do your best not to put extra stress on your muscles by sitting with good posture, sleeping well, and getting up and moving once in a while if you've sat for too long. These are basic muscle soreness strategies, but important for ensuring that the symptoms don't lead to more anxiety.
Preventing Anxiety Muscle Soreness
All of the above tips only work when you're already sore. But what about strategies to prevent muscle soreness from occurring in the first place? For that, you need to address the anxiety that is causing your muscles to experience that much tension.
Take my free 7 minute anxiety test to learn more. The test was developed to give you greater insight into your own anxiety and provide you with tools to cure your anxiety forever.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.