Coping With Muscle Tension

Coping With Muscle Tension

By Diane LaChapelle PhD LPsyc

Muscle tension is both a cause and consequence of chronic pain. Injury and chronic pain contribute to muscle tension because muscles automatically contract around a painful site to support and protect the area.

Furthermore, if you adopt a guarded position to help protect yourself from pain, this will lead to further muscle contractions. A guarded position might mean walking with a limp or holding your neck in an awkward position. In this way, the muscle tension arises from a painful condition and then further contributes to pain. Furthermore, muscle tension can put pressure on nerves, leading to tingling and numbness.

The following pages in this section can help you to cope with or reduce muscle tension:

  • Exercise. Regular physical activity can keep your muscles loose.
  • 10% Rule. When you have become accustomed to a certain level of activity and want to do more of it, you should only increase your activity level by about 10%. This page tells you how to go about doing this.
  • Relaxation Techniques. These are your most important weapons against muscle tension. Make sure to practice these daily.

Other strategies to reduce muscle tension are as follows:

  • Consult with a registered massage therapist
  • Consult with a licensed physiotherapist
  • Apply heat or ice to the area
  • Try taking a hot bath
  • Consider trying acupuncture: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/