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How to Loosen Tight Muscles: Causes & 8 Easy Treatments

Have you ever tried to bend over and felt like your muscles were as stiff as a board? You could have overly tight muscles, which can cause some serious problems if you aren’t careful.

What is Muscle Stiffness?

man with muscle stiffness legs

Muscle stiffness refers to the state where muscles feel tight and contracted rather than supple. It’s a feeling of tension in the muscles, which is why stretching often feels so good. It limbers them to be more flexible. 

When Should You See a Doctor?

It’s natural to feel some tightness after a tough workout. You only really need to see a doctor if the muscle tightness is accompanied by a high fever, muscle weakness, and/or difficulty breathing.

Causes of Tight Muscles

man with muscle stiffness shoulders

Muscle stiffness can come from many areas, and to remedy the situation, it’s paramount to identify the source.


A sprain occurs when you stretch a ligament attached to a joint too much. It typically occurs when you engage in extreme physical conditioning too quickly.


Strains involve putting too much pressure or activity on a muscle. This is also referred to as torn muscles, which may require surgery to remedy.


An infection can result in an inflammation of the muscles. In extreme cases, this is known as myositis, a condition that results in swelling and pain around the muscles.

Insect Bite/Sting

Bites and stings from certain insects can cause muscles to spasm and ache. This is often paired with a red bump at the site where the attack occurred.

Extreme Heat or Cold Injury

Heat cramps can cause muscles to tighten, which is why it’s important to stay hydrated. Similarly, coldness causes muscles to lose heat and contract too much, leading to cramps.

8 Ways to Loosen Tight Muscles

If you frequently suffer from tight muscles, there are ways around it. For starters, you can stretch every day to limber up, and here are the ones you should focus on the most.

1. Sitting Hamstring Stretch

You’ll feel the tension in the back of your thigh. You begin by sitting with one leg extended and the other leg bent so that the sole is resting against your mid-thigh. You reach toward your ankle all while keeping your back, neck, and knee straight.

2. Lying Quad Stretch

In a face-down position, prop your head on one of your hands, or lie on your side. Pull one of your feet toward your butt and bend the opposing knee so that you’re stable.

3. Heating Pads

Heating pads help your muscle relax. The heat promotes blood circulation to help alleviate any discomfort.

4. Saunas

Similar to heating pads, saunas use heat to circulate blood and reduce pain.

5. Lumbar Rotation

Lie on your back with your knees and hips bent 90 degrees with your feet flat on the floor. Rotate your knees to one side while keeping your hips in contact with the floor. Hold it in that position and then switch sides.

6. Knee-to-Chest Stretch

On your back, get your knees bent. Bring one knee toward your chest and hold it in that position. Repeat with the other leg.

7. Professional Massage

A professional massage, particularly a deep tissue one, can target pain and discomfort deep within muscles.

8. Use a Foam Roller

A foam roller offers a form of self-myofascial release. Like a massage, it targets pain deep within muscles and tissues to help you before or after an intense workout.

How to Prevent Tight Muscles

The best way to prevent tight muscles is to stretch before and after a workout. Even if you’re only running, you want to stretch so that your muscles are loose for what’s about to come.