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Have you experienced a sudden muscle cramp and tightness after a workout? Not only is it painful to deal with, but it can also limit our movement – which interferes with your exercise routine. What could be the reason behind muscle tightness, and how can we prevent it? Here’s what the experts have to say.

Prolonged Inactivity

According to health experts, one major reason for muscle tightness is prolonged inactivity. An example of this is sitting at your desk for 8 hours straight. When you sit, your hips are in a flexed or bent position – putting your muscles in front (hip flexors) and the back (glutes) of your hips in a lengthened position. Aside from that, your chest muscles, also known as pectorals are in a shortened position, while your upper back muscles are in a lengthened position. Though your body can hold this position for a while, prolonged inactivity can result in muscle imbalances.

It’s recommended to stand up and walk once in a while to stretch your muscles from a prolonged sitting.

This triggers tightness in your shortened muscles, while your lengthened muscles become weak. This also develops into poor posture with your shoulders forward rounded and glutes underdeveloped. To prevent having muscle tightness, it’s important to maintain a proper sitting posture to distribute the weight and tension between your muscles equally. You can also strengthen those muscles that have become weak and lengthened. Meanwhile, make sure to stretch the short and tightened muscles to help loosen it up.

During Exercise

The health experts say another reason why your muscles tend to tighten is during your exercise. This muscle tightness is known as muscle cramps and it produces unpleasant and painful sensations in your body. Muscle cramps may happen due to a variety of factors like low sodium or potassium amount, or muscle fatigue. This causes your muscles to contract and shorten – increasing the tension and making your cramps more painful. The health experts recommend you nourish your body properly before exercising by eating healthy foods to help loosen these muscle tensions.

It’s important to hydrate yourself occasionally throughout your exercise routine to prevent muscle cramps.

Aside from that, they recommend you take sips of water between breaks or exercises to keep yourself hydrated. Don’t attempt stretching it as it can tear your muscle fibers. Worse, it can even lead to injury. Instead of stretching it, let your muscle spasms relax and recover for a while before attempting to stretch out. You also need to keep your hydration and nutrition in check and make sure you’re not fatigued or exhausted before exercising. If you’ve been exercising longer than an hour, it’s recommended to drink an electrolyte replenishing drink to revitalize yourself and deal with muscle cramps.

After Exercising

Some people feel their muscles tighten after exercising. The health experts call this medical condition as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and you can feel your muscles cramping within 24-72 hours after exercising. DOMS usually occur after having intense exercises where a weight is slowed or lowered. The muscle cramps, tightness, and soreness you feel are due to the small ruptures within your muscles.

An example of an intense exercise that causes DOMS is a bicep curl.

You can prevent having sudden muscle cramps by gradually increasing your exercises’ intensity instead of doing it suddenly. According to health experts, DOMS usually disappear after three days, you can minimize it by doing a moderate intensity exercise or even a relaxing massage to alleviate its soreness. Massaging also allows the increased blood flow supply to the sore or affected area.

Prevention Tips

Aside from meeting your hydration intake, the health experts recommend you coordinate with your nutritionist to create your diet meal plan according to your preference, requirement, and activity level. This will help nourish your body so that you can withstand pre, during, and post-exercise without developing muscle cramps and injuries. It’s also recommended to do some stretching before and after exercise to avoid DOMS.

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