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Muscle Stiffness/Soreness

Muscle pain or stiffness? - there can be many causes

Muscle pain or stiffness, particularly when getting up in the night or in the morning, or after any period of inactivity, is very common as people get older. Morning stiffness typically becomes noticeable as a problem in later middle age. The terms fibrositis or fibromyalgia are used to describe the condition when it becomes acute or chronic and is associated with serious pain rather than simply temporary discomfort.

Muscle stiffness often begins with the legs and ankles, and may be accompanied by temporary pain and soreness, and possibly by a perception of muscle weakness and unsteadyness. It may also occur in the neck, shoulders or back.

Less commonly chronic muscle stiffness and pain may affect young people, often starting in early adulthood, in which case a diagnosis of fibromylagia will usually be made. Muscles can also become particularly stiff following exercise. In a case of abnormal exertion this is usual, but if it occurs following mild exercise it is probably an early warning of a more chronic condition.

Muscle soreness should not be confused with joint pain and stiffness caused by arthritis or rheumatism. With muscle pain and stiffness, there isn't usually any real physical restriction of movement, but the discomfort and sensations of weakness and unsteadiness can be enough to limit movement until the muscles have ‘warmed up’.

Morning stiffness


One possible cause of mild muscle stiffness may be under-oxygenation of muscle tissue and consequent build-up of lactic acid, causing a form of muscle cramp. It appears to be largely related to a sedentary lifestyle and possibly poor circulation, and especially occurs where muscle groups are regularly held in the contracted position for a period of time.

Medical investigations generally tend not to reveal any specific problems, so doctors are often dismissive, suggesting that such things are to be expected with increasing age. In just a few cases, problems may begin following a viral illness such as influenza, but no direct causal link has been established.

Supplements for muscle stiffness

Two common nutritional deficiencies commonly give rise to muscle problems (among others). These are vitamin D deficiency and magnesium deficiency.

Vitamin D is intimately involved with bone, joint and muscle maintenance, and even a borderline deficiency can have some quite serious effects. So one of the first things you can try is to supplement with Vitamin D3 (this is important, the cheaper vitamin D2 is far less effective). Try supplementing with about 2,000 IU (about 50 micrograms) per day and see if there is any improvement after a week.

Also possible is a deficiency of the mineral magnesium. Magnesium is also involved in hundreds of metabolic pathways, and because the Western diet tends to be low in magnesium, deficiency is extremely common. Common effects of this include an inability of muscles to relax fully, lack of strength and low general energy level. The average adult man needs about 400 mg/day of magnesium, and the average adult woman about 300 mg/day. Most people take in far less than this and so are in a permanent state of deficiency. Supplementing correctly with magnesium is not straightforward. Please follow this link to another page on this site for the details. A number of people have also reported improvement after using a combination of magnesium and malic acid supplementation as described for fibromyalgia.

Magnesium and vitamin D are co-dependent, and you should probably supplement with both simultaneously, at least if you do not receive regular skin exposure to sunlight which allows the natural production of vitamin D. Also involved in the same metabolic pathways is calcium, and it may be worth supplementing with this mineral at the same time. A number of calcium-magnesium-vitamin D supplements are commercially available.

After you have made sure you are not suffering from vitamin D and magnesium deficiency, the best general ‘treatment’ for muscle stiffness is daily mild exercise incorporating slow, regular movement such as ‘stretching and toning’, quigong, yoga or swimming. Recent research has shown that you need to hold ‘stretches’ or tension postures for at least 15 seconds to obtain maximum effect in relieving tension and increasing muscle flexibility. It may be best to work up to this target if you are just starting out. Even a regular daily walk of half a mile or more can make a huge difference after just a week or two.

See also Muscle Cramps


Recommended Products

Recommended Book: Growing Young' by Marcus L Gitterle MD

The latest 'anti-aging' research means that you do not have to put up with a steady accumulation of aches and pains as the years mount up. You can use gentle and natural methods with no unwanted side effects, to simply cast aside all those irritating little aches and pains, limitations and restrictions that gradually eat into the quality of life.

Marcus Gitterle's book is a compilation of new information which can be used at home by anyone. No expensive equipment is needed, and there are no sweat-drenched work-outs. Whether you are a ‘senior citizen’ or just someone who is naturally prone to aches, pains, soreness or stiffness, this book will help. To find out more, just click on the ‘cover’ image or button to the right, and you will be taken straight to the information page (it will open in another tab or window).


Growing Young cover

Click Here



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