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Why are my Muscles Sore?

By Linda Dadic
from De Stress Express

The body is a complex universe in its self, and so too are the muscles! There are approximately 640 muscles in the human body. The main three types of the muscle structures are skeletal, smooth and cardiac. There are many reasons why your muscles may be sore and tight. Observing the triggers can help you work towards cause and effect. Many factors can contribute to having tight and painful muscles.

Firstly, it is important to identify when your muscles are sore, or more painful.

Is it when you wake? Is it when you go to sleep? Does your pain wake you through the night? Do you have sore muscles after exercise? Do you have sore muscles from working on the computer for long periods of time? Do you have poor posture? Do you get sore muscles from stress? Do certain emotional factors cause you sore muscles?


When you sit at a computer for long periods of time, it is very easy to become complacent with your posture. It is very important to have an ergonomic work space, where your eye level is at the top of your screen and your arms are at a 90 degree angle. This allows your shoulders to be neutral, your head level and your posture straight. Some people find it beneficial to have a computer desk that can alternate between stand up and desk level, to move their body position over the course of their computer working time. Also check that your feet are flat. You may need to have a foot support to accomplish this. It is also important to have breaks from the computer and do some stretching, to activate blood flow and release muscle tension.

Basic computer stretches that are easy to do:

  1. Turn your head to the right (drop shoulders), count for 5. Repeat on left side. Do this 3-4 times. Only go as far as it is comfortable. This stretches the Sternocleidomastoid, whichis the most superficial and largest muscle in the front part of the neck and the scalene muscles, which are located deeper in relation to the sternocleidomastoid muscle. They connect the vertebrae to the first two ribs.
  2. For a deeper stretch you can place your hand gently on your head, when it is tilted.
  3. Lift your shoulders simultaneously to your ear lobes, hold tight for a count of 4 and drop shoulders quickly. Repeat 3-4 times.
  4. Roll your shoulders simultaneously backwards 5 times then forward 5 times.
  5. Roll you’re your wrists simultaneously in one direction 5 times, then again in the other direction. Then do the same with your ankles.

Tip: Set an alarm for every hour to prompt stretching. Drink plenty of water! You will need to urinate more, which can prompt you also to move and incorporate some stretches!


It is very important when doing ANY exercise that you warm up your muscles with gentle stretches and movement. When exercising, be mindful to listen to your body. Pushing your body can lead to injury. Often, if the exercise is for muscle growth. After an exercise session, it is also important to stretch the muscles, depending on the exercise taken. Gym work outs have a higher potential for having sore muscles. It is suggested that beginners have one to one training with a PT prior to undergoing their own work outs, to minimise any incorrect weight bearing actions. Exercises like yoga and Pilates are already incorporating stretching.

Stress and Emotional Factors:

Stress and emotional factors are major concern for the whole body, including the muscles. Stresses can be due to several things; work, relationship and or environment related factors, to name a few. Again, it is important to identify the triggers. Stress effects the whole body, and in particular the nervous system. The nervous system can contract the muscles, which leads to tight, sore muscles.

Tip: Stop and take 5 slow breaths to calm yourself when a stress/emotion occurs. Take steps to reduce the identified triggers, such as going for a walk/being outside in nature. Don’t respond in the moment of an argument and revisit the situation when you are calm. Ask yourself “who does this belong to?” At times we take on other people’s stresses. Write a journal to connect with your thoughts and feelings. Do light stretching of your body to get blood circulation flowing. “Shake it out”. Literally spend 10-20 seconds shaking your whole body.

The Importance of Massage:

There are many types of massage. Gentle forms of massage include Swedish massage and Shiatsu massage. A more specific muscle related massage is Remedial massage and trigger point therapy. This type of massage is firm to deep and is addressing origins and insertions of the muscle structure.

The benefits of a Remedial Massage are to alleviate the constriction and tightness of the muscles. There may be a specific area of the body that is more compromised in pain, which the therapist will spend more time in releasing the targeted area. Generally speaking, in a Remedial massage the therapist will work on the whole body to have circulation of the blood and lymph system activated prior to working on a specific problem area. Communication with your therapist regarding your needs from the session and your pain threshold is also important.

Depending on the reason why you need a massage will determine a treatment plan. You may require a massage more regularly if you have an ongoing injury or “every now and then” if it’s solely for relaxation and maintenance purposes. Even one massage can relive sore and painful muscles.

Other tips:

Magnesium is important for muscles, as too is protein, a good diet, sleep and good quality water consumption.

More about the author

Linda-Dadic 2
Linda Dadic
– De Stress Express

Linda is a Remedial Massage Therapist with 29 years’ experience, completing her Dip Rem Mas 1994 at The Australasian College of Natural Therapies. She has also studied Reiki 1 and 2, Polarity Therapy and Cupping. Linda’s business is De Stress Express and has a Massage studio in Mona Vale, on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.