Muscle tension: 3 tips for reducing pain

Muskelverspannungen: 3 Tipps für weniger Schmerzen

Not only is muscle tension painful, it can also restrict your daily activity. It can be eased or reduced with treatments such as warmth or mobilisation – or even prevented altogether.

What is muscle tension?

Almost everyone knows them, those little hard areas of soreness. They can occur in all muscles of the body. Tension is most common in the shoulders and back or in the neck muscles. Putting pressure on these points leads to pain that radiates into the whole muscle or, in the worst case, into other areas.

Locating the tension

Tension causes the muscle area to harden, forming what’s known as a «taut band» that is easy to locate by touch. Irritating a tense point by applying pressure can trigger a local twitch response as the knot «jumps».

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How muscle tension develops

It’s not yet fully understood why muscle tension occurs. Scientists assume that over-stretching, muscle trauma, overload, the impact of strong forces, cold or even stress can lead to muscle rigidity in the long term. This ultimately leads to a cycle in which the body releases inflammatory messengers, thereby irritating the body’s pain receptors.

Possible muscle tension triggers

  • over-stretching
  • muscle trauma
  • overload
  • impact of strong forces
  • cold
  • stress

Painful trigger points

Various studies on hardened tissue found a low pH value and a higher concentration of substances that trigger inflammation and pain. If this cycle isn’t broken, trigger points form. As a result, the tissue in this area is no longer adequately supplied with blood – which leads to pain.

3 tips to ease muscle tension

The problem causing tense muscles is that the tissue isn't receiving a sufficient supply of blood. Simple remedies can break this cycle and stimulate blood circulation.

When experiencing muscle tension, try not to adopt a protective posture, but continue to move in a variety of ways.

Support muscles with exercise

Movement is one of the best ways to stimulate blood flow to the muscles. This is why you should try not to adopt a protective posture, but continue to move in a variety of ways. What does a variety of ways mean? This means also performing movements – e.g. in the form of exercises – that are often neglected in everyday life.

Stretching exercise for the neck

  1. Sit upright.
  2. Move the head slowly with control as far as possible to the left.
  3. Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds.
  4. Then turn the head to the right with control.
  5. Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds.
  6. Repeat the movements a few times.

Even small movements to mobilise the joints can help gradually relieve tension in the muscles and ease neck pain. It’s important to do the short exercises several times a day and regularly – one minute per exercise is enough.

Heat treatment for better circulation

Hot water bottles and warming creams have a circulation-enhancing effect on the muscles. To enjoy the warming effect when you're on the go, take a special heat patch with you to stick on. This eases tension and helps relieve muscle pain.

Tension-relieving massage

Heat and pressure stimulate blood circulation and this relieves tension. A pressurising massage compresses the body’s tissue like a sponge, pressing out substances and body fluids. When the pressure is released, the blood flow to the muscle tissue increases – which supplies it with nutrients. Particularly in the case of tension in the neck muscles, a neck massage can quickly provide relief. And the best thing about it? You can massage your own neck yourself.

Get rid of neck pain

In principle, you can experience muscle tension anywhere in your body. However, a tense neck is a particular problem for many people. Not only is it painful, it can also cause many other symptoms such as fatigue and dizziness. Besides warming the muscles and massaging them regularly, there are other tricks that can provide relief.

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