Why Do Muscles Get Tight? Plus, how to Treat Tight Muscles

Aug 26, 2021

Too many of us know the dreaded pain of waking up the day after a tough workout to sore muscles. Maybe it feels like limited mobility, stiffness, or pain throughout arms and legs. But why exactly do our muscles get tight? What can we do to ease the pain, and how can you avoid waking up with this kind of pain again? 

If you’re tired of your muscles tightening up and disrupting your day, continue reading as we discuss some of the biggest causes of sore muscles and what you can be doing to alleviate the pain.

What is Muscle Stiffness?

Usually, you’ll find that your muscles tighten up after over-exertion. Maybe yesterday’s workout was particularly tough, or maybe you’re at the beginning of a new exercise routine. The pain from stiffness is typically at its worst after long periods of inactivity, and this is why it can feel especially daunting when you wake up and first try to move out of bed.  

The more you move about the more manageable it may feel, but sitting down for long periods of time may reignite that tension all over again. Stiffness may also occur because of more serious strains or sprains on the muscle, in which case you may find yourself noticing redness, swelling, or bruising as well.  

If your muscles ache mildly and the soreness only lasts for a day or two, then this can generally be managed at home. But if you experience prolonged muscle soreness or severe pain, then a visit to your local healthcare professional is recommended.

Why Do Muscles Feel Tight? 

So why exactly do our muscles tighten up? The better we understand our bodies and the side effects we experience, the better prepared we are to avoid experiencing this kind of soreness again. The variety of factors that could lead to your muscles stiffening up include: 


As mentioned, one of the most common reasons we experience muscle pain is pushing ourselves too hard. Overuse of muscles can look like more than just a difficult gym session, however. Sometimes movement habits can be stirring up trouble throughout your whole body. Incorrect lifting techniques, irregular walking patterns, bending from the waist instead of hips – all these things can force different muscles to get overworked and cause regular pain and tensions that may affect your daily life. 


Experiencing muscular pain may simply be a sign that your body is struggling to carry out the tasks it needs to. Reinforcing healthy habits may be the key to seeing improvements in your wellbeing. Ensuring you get a full night’s sleep (at least 7 hours for the average adult) is the very first step, and getting proper routines in place to make that happen will work wonders for you and your body. Wind down before bed, avoid screens, stay away from caffeine in the afternoon. Your body will thank you! 


Ensuring that you’re giving your muscles everything they need to do their job. Giving your body all the necessary nutrients to fuel itself is vital. It all boils down to creating healthy habits for yourself. Be mindful of what you’re putting into your body, and put the time in to create nutritional plans and diets that give you everything you need. Even beyond healthy eating, it may surprise you just how many of us don’t drink nearly enough water every day – and dehydration is a huge factor that can lead to muscles tightening up!  


When your body feels that you’re in danger of being injured, muscles tighten as a form of protection. Tightness and limited mobility can sometimes be a warning sign to precede greater injury. There are small things that can help (ice, massages, rest, etc), but the best way to manage this pain is to find the root cause. Consulting a professional and potentially getting your movement evaluated to examine if any habits may be causing your ongoing pain can be the best thing you can do to take care of yourself and avoid ongoing tightness. 

Quality Treatment for Injury 

If your exercise habits have led to injury, or if you find yourself regularly struggling with tight muscles, a professional assessment is the way to go. At Atlas Chiropractic, our team can assess your pain and create a tailored treatment plan to reduce pain and increase mobility. Book an appointment today to find out what you can be doing to ease your muscle pain and start towards a speedy recovery.