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If you routinely suffer from muscle aches and pain, your sedentary lifestyle may be to blame. Many people who work desk jobs report feeling muscle tension. While stress does play a role, lack of exercise is also to blame. If you find yourself struggling with muscle tension, especially in your neck and back, make an effort to include exercise in your daily schedule. Your achy muscles will thank you.
Understanding Muscle Tension
Spine-Health defines muscle tension as a condition in which muscles remain in a semi-contracted state for an extended period of time. This constant contraction not only results in tension but can also cause muscle spasms and muscle pain. Factors that contribute to muscle contraction include stress, lactic acid buildup and injury. Muscle tension from lack of exercise is one of the leading causes of back and neck pain.
Aerobic exercise helps blood flow more efficiently, which allows muscles greater access to oxygen-rich blood. When you forego your afternoon jog, your muscles receive lower levels of oxygen, and over time, this oxygen deficiency leads to lactic acid buildup. Cardiovascular exercises, such as running, walking or cycling, all can enhance cardiorespiratory fitness and improve blood flow. If back pain or muscle aches are preventing you from exercise, try swimming, which provides an effective aerobic workout that is easy on the joints.
According to Millar Sports Chiropractic, when you do not adequately stretch, your muscles can become shortened, which causes painful knots to develop. Stretching helps to elongate muscles, reducing the chance of injury. Muscles that are stretched regularly also benefit from enhanced oxygenation, as tense muscles often do not receive adequate amounts of oxygen and other essential nutrients. For best results, plan to stretch before and after each workout. Stretching before you exercise helps prepare the muscles for the impact of exercise, while stretching after your workout relaxes the muscles and helps to prevent soreness. Before your workout, plan to perform dynamic stretches, such as walking lunges or glute bridges. During your cool down, perform static stretches that work specific muscles individually.
Perform Resistance Exercises
Weak muscles are overworked easily, which can lead to muscle soreness and injury. By adding weight training to your fitness routine, you benefit from enhanced muscle tone, improved weight management and a decreased risk of joint or muscle injury. When starting a weight-training program, MayoClinic.com recommends warming up with 10 minutes of stretching or brisk walking. Choose the proper weight by selecting a weight that is heavy enough your muscles feel tired after 12 repetitions and allow one day of rest between weight training sessions.