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Muscle Tension: Causes, Symptoms & Relief

Muskelverspannungen 12.04.22 7 min. read

Muscle tension is certainly not new to you. Nearly everyone gets to experience them during their lives. Sometimes it comes with the territory of everyday life, especially when you sit at a desk for a long time or do heavy physical work. Tension in the muscles can also have many other causes, such as stress. We will go into more detail about all these possible triggers in the following article. In addition, we give you helpful tips to gently relieve tension and would like to introduce you to our herbal muscle cream.

At a glance: Muscle Tension: Causes, Symptoms & Help


Running through the rat race of everyday life can be stressful. Sitting at a desk, monotonous movement sequences or heavy lifting on the job lead to muscle tension at some point in many cases.


Adding psychological factors such as worries, problems and fears, contributes to the inner tension even more. Therefore, it's time to get out of the rat race, even if it's only for a short moment. 

What is muscle tension?

Muscles are considered to be tense when the muscle tone is permanently increased [1]. The term muscle tone refers to the body's basic tension. This is built up by the motor nerves.

During the day, your basic body tension ensures that you don't slump down, but can still stand, walk and sit - without even giving it a second thought. As soon as you go to sleep, the muscle tone drops and your body and muscles can recover.

Now, when you feel muscle tension, your basic tension increases. As a result, your muscle tissue is strained and no longer supplied with blood properly, so that your muscles harden. If this muscle hardening irritates the surrounding nerves, pain occurs and the tension in your muscles increases even more.

It is particularly problematic that sufferers in this situation often try to avoid pain by adopting a protective posture. This in turn increases the tension in other muscles, resulting in new muscle tension and pain. Ultimately, sufferers then find themselves in a vicious cycle.

Where can muscle tension arise?

Theoretically, muscle tension can arise anywhere. After all, humans have about 656 muscles, and the number can vary depending on age and state of health. However, tension most often causes discomfort in the neck, shoulder and back.

Muscle tension: Causes and symptoms

The causes of muscle tension can be varied and are usually due to lifestyle. One of the most common triggers is heavy work in a constant posture or long periods of sitting. Thus, it is usually monotonous movement sequences, in which you always stress the same muscles, which then trigger muscle tension or muscle hardening due to the overload.

Another cause can be a lack of movement, which means that various muscle groups (for example, back or neck muscles) are not sufficiently trained. Often a too weak musculature is the cornerstone for muscle tensions and muscle hardenings in the back, neck and shoulders.

Here is an overview of possible causes for you:

  • Lack of exercise
  • improper movement
  • incorrect posture/misloading
  • one-sided loads
  • overload during sports
  • injuries
  • unfavorable sleeping position
  • continuous draught or cold


What are the symptoms of tension?

Tension usually starts with pulling and localized pain, for example in the neck-shoulder area or back. The affected muscles feel hard and are extremely sensitive to pressure. Pain can occur both at rest and during movement, and can also radiate to other areas. For example, neck pain often radiates to the shoulders and arms or leads to headaches. It also happens that you feel pain in your legs when you have muscle tension in your lower back.

Stress - the main cause of muscle tension.

As soon as we feel stress, our brain sends corresponding signals to the muscles, which then tense up. If this phase lasts longer, the muscle tension also remains. The result is stress-related permanent tension in various muscle groups, which you can also feel mainly in the back, shoulder or neck.

Bad posture often forms as a result. In turn, tension and pain arise from a restrained posture. The longer this condition persists, the higher the risk of it becoming chronic.

Muscle pain: diseases as a cause

When muscle pain occurs, it is often caused by harmless tension. 60 to 85 percent of the European population suffers from non-specific muscle-related back pain at some point in their lives [2].

In other cases, it may be a sore muscle or the famous "lumbago". Sometimes, however, the triggers can be serious muscle injuries, for example, muscle contusions, muscle fiber or muscle tears.

In addition, various diseases can also be involved in the development of muscle pain, including the following:

  • Infectious diseases such as influenza
  • Parkinson's disease (disease of the nervous system)
  • Multiple sclerosis (chronic nervous system disease)
  • Osteoporosis (reduction of bone density)
  • Arthritis (wear and tear of joints)


Damage to the spine and herniated discs can also be possible causes.

When should you see a doctor?

Muscle tension is easy to treat in the beginning. However, if you wait too long and do nothing about the tension and pain, there is a risk that the tension will worsen and become chronic. Therefore, it is advisable to see a doctor if

  • The pain lasts longer than three months,
  • you do not know the cause
  • the intensity of the pain becomes stronger
  • the mobility is severely limited
  • if other symptoms occur (numbness, tingling, loss of strength, etc.)


Muscle tension: Magnesium deficiency as a cause?

Magnesium is an important mineral that performs many tasks in your body. Among other things, magnesium is involved in the formation of bones and the function of muscles. In addition, the mineral regulates the electrolyte balance and accordingly also influences the nervous system [3].

In the context of muscle cramps, you have probably heard of the recommendation to take magnesium. This results from the fact that a frequent symptom of magnesium deficiency is calf cramps, and the supply of the mineral can alleviate these. However, this has not been scientifically proven.

Many people assume from this that magnesium can generally help with muscle cramps and also muscle tension. However, we were unable to find any studies to support this assumption. In addition, taking magnesium supplements when there is no magnesium deficiency can endanger health [4, 5].

Helpful tips to release muscle tension 

The most effective way to combat muscle tension, stiffness and pain is to exercise. If you gradually integrate this into your everyday life, you can both relieve existing pain and prevent new complaints. In the following, we will show you some measures that can be of help to you:

  • It is especially important that you do not adopt a restraining posture. Alternative sports such as yoga or Thai Chi are particularly suitable for stretching and training the whole body and the affected muscle group.
  • Heat is always an effective means of gently relieving tension and hardening. Warm compresses, a red light lamp or a heat patch can help. You may also treat yourself to sauna sessions and a warm bath.
  • Massages are also a good way to relieve tension in the back, neck or shoulders. It is best to consult a physiotherapist for this. They can also give you helpful tips and show you exercises that you can do at home.
  • Medication can be a short-term help in an acute phase and in case of very severe pain. However, such drug treatments should only be carried out in consultation with a doctor.


Self-Care-Time: Make time for your body!

This Place wants to encourage you to pay more attention to your body. Especially when your everyday life is particularly stressful and you feel the need to relax. Our muscle cream The Blissful Day can support you with its natural ingredients.

  • Arnica (mountain willow): Various studies suggest that a cream containing arnica can inhibit inflammation and relieve muscle pain [6].
  • Silver willow: The bark of the silver willow has long been used to relieve pain. According to research, it is also thought to have anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic effects, among others [7].
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): The ingredient from the hemp plant is also said to have an anti-inflammatory effect [8]. In addition, CBD can trigger calming and anxiety-relieving effects [9]. For this reason, CBD can be an ideal companion when you feel the need to relax.
  • Turmeric: The plant compound curcumin from the yellow root has shown promising results in various studies [10]. Turmeric is said to be able to reduce pain and inflammation.


Release tension with The Blissful Day

The Blissful Day is an herbal muscle cream for which we would like to give you tips on how to use it properly to relieve your tension and muscle pain and to increase your well-being.

  • Step 1: When it feels good for you, create a relaxed atmosphere. Meditation music or perhaps a scented candle can aid you in this.
  • Step 2: Straighten your spine and find a comfortable sitting position. Pay attention to your breath and let it come to rest.
  • Step 3: Spread the muscle cream on your palms and enjoy the pleasant scent.
  • Step 4: Apply the cream to the affected area in a circular motion.
  • Step 5: Notice how a soothing warmth spreads through your body and enjoy the relaxation.


Note: The Blissful Day can help you not only with muscle tension, but also with tension in the neck or sore muscles.

This Place wishes you a relaxing time with The Blissful Day!


What causes muscle tension?

There are numerous triggers for muscle tension. Starting with bad posture, incorrect spinal strain, lack of exercise, excessive sporting activities and ending with psychological problems (e.g. stress) and illnesses. In most cases, tense muscles are the result of an overly untrained, weak musculature as well as heavy work or even sitting for long periods in an incorrect posture.

What symptoms can trigger tension?

In the case of muscle tension, the affected muscle areas usually show signs of stiffness. There may also be a pulling pain. Depending on where the tension is, mobility may also be restricted. For example, it is often the case that people who suffer from tension in the neck and shoulder area can no longer turn their head properly or rotate their shoulders.

  1. Thieme, Stuttgart, Medical Textbooks, H. E. Kaeser, T. M. Ettlin, "Muscle Tensions," ISBN-10: 3131106115, ISBN-13: 978-3131106117. More Info
  2. DEUTSCHES ÄRZTEBLATT 2008; 105(12): 214-9; More Info
  3. Magnesium in Prevention and Therapy von Uwe Gröber , Joachim Schmidt, Klaus Kisters More Info
  4. Mieczkowski M, Kościelska M. Zaburzenia homeostazy magnezu: hipermagnezemia mia [Magnesium homeostasis disorders: hypermagnesemia]. Wiad Lek. 2013;66(4):317-8. Polish. PMID: 24490486. More Info
  5. Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, 2017, "BfR assesses maximum daily amount for magnesium in food supplements". More Info
  6. Pumpa KL, Fallon KE, Bensoussan A, Papalia S. The effects of topical Arnica on performance, pain and muscle damage after intense eccentric exercise. Eur J Sport Sci. 2014;14(3):294-300. More Info
  7. Chrubasik S, Eisenberg E, Balan E, Weinberger T, Luzzati R, Conradt C. Treatment of low back pain exacerbations with willow bark extract: a randomized double-blind study. Am J Med. 2000 Jul;109(1):9-14 More Info
  8. Burstein S. Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: a review of their effects on inflammation. Bioorg Med Chem. 2015 Apr 1;23(7):1377-85 More Info
  9. Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct;12(4):825-36. More Info
  10. Uddin SJ, Hasan MF, Afroz M, Sarker DK, Rouf R, Islam MT, Shilpi JA, Mubarak MS. Curcumin and its Multi-target Function Against Pain and Inflammation: An Update of Pre-clinical Data. Curr Drug Targets. 2021;22(6):656-671 More Info