How to Relax Muscles and Banish Tension from Your Body
“Just breathing can be such a luxury sometimes.”
― Walter Kirn (Tweet This)
Muscle tightness and tension strikes all of us at one time or another. After any great workout comes rest and recovery. After a stressful day comes the need for relaxation. But this doesn’t always happen with a busy life!
Choose from the following tips to relax your muscles, relieve stress, and feel great!
Relaxing Muscles After a Workout
Anytime you stress your muscles in a workout, you create microscopic tears in the fibers. These tiny tears will heal stronger than they were before, IF you give your muscles enough recovery time!
Recovery time doesn’t mean vegging on the couch. It means slow, gentle movement (to keep the blood circulating to the muscles) and deep rest. Deep rest is the kind you get only during sleep or meditation.
The Effects of Stress on Muscles
And stress… oh, what stress does to your body! Tension in your upper back and neck and general stiffness from unconsciously tensing your body can create serious muscle imbalances.
Emotional stress is the worst culprit in creating chronic muscle tension. Environmental stresses, like artificial ingredients in processed foods, can impede proper muscle functioning. This can add to the problem.
11 Relaxation Solutions
Meditation is the number one way to relieve stress and relax your muscles! You can meditate before you go to bed to ensure that your body is completely relaxed before you hit the hay. Or, try it first thing in the morning to start the day with a positive attitude and prevent stress in the first place.
This is the one relaxation technique that is best done every day.
And it doesn’t take long! Just 15–30 minutes will have you so relaxed that the world has melted away… at least while you’re meditating. All you need is a pair of headphones and an MP3 player. Then sit comfortably, close your eyes, and Omharmonics’ binaural beats will create a meditative state in your brain.
That’s all you have to do! You can play the soundtrack, repeat mantras, focus on relaxation, or simply do nothing at all.
A tensed muscle becomes a stiff muscle, so a proper stretch is essential after a workout. Even if you’ve done nothing but sit all day, a stretch will feel amazing! Get the kinks out by stretching every day.
Sometimes, the best stretches are counter-intuitive; if you have pain in a particular muscle, you may need to contract it and stretch the opposing muscle. This is especially effective for back pain or tension. The yoga pose “cobra” is great in relieving back tension, but please learn how to do it correctly so you don’t hurt yourself!
Never push a stretch to the point of pain and never bounce. Just relax into it, breathing into the stretch until you feel a release in the muscle after a minute or two. Then go deeper. Stop when it hurts. Stretching should feel good!
Stretching helps release toxins built up in the muscles and improves your range of motion. For even more toxin-flushing, treat yourself to a massage and drink plenty of water afterward.
3. Watch Your Breath
Usually, when you’re stressed, your breathing is shallow and rapid, causing even more tension in your muscles. You can develop very deep breathing that will relax your muscles, FAST! Simply focus on making a long, steady exhale. Don’t worry about the inhale. Your body will take care of that. Focus on the exhale for 10–20 breaths and feel the tension and tightness dissipate from your muscles.
Do this deep breathing when you’re stretching, too, for an even deeper calm. As you exhale, visualize all tightness and tension leaving the muscle being stretched.
Deep breathing comes naturally as part of a meditation practice, but you can use it at anytime to relax your muscles.
4. Warm Up
Saunas, hot baths, hot showers, hot tubs, and steam rooms warm your core temperature, increase circulation, and relax you physically and mentally. You can stretch while enjoying deep, penetrating heat.
One commonly overlooked relaxation technique is drinking plenty of water after any kind of hot therapy. You need to replenish water lost due to sweating.
5. Drink Water
Staying hydrated will help relax muscles by keeping the cells supple and flushing out toxins. Avoid sugary or artificially-sweetened energy drinks or sodas, though.
As much as muscles need to be worked, they also need rest in the form of good sleep and meditation. But avoid vegging on the couch for more than a day. Your muscles will actually relax if you take some “moving workouts” like a gentle stroll, a leisurely swim or bike ride, or hatha yoga.
7. Do Yoga
And speaking of yoga, if you practice one of the more aerobic or intense yoga styles, do a more stretch/relaxation-oriented class twice a month or so to give your muscles a break and incorporate more gentle stretching.
8. Get a Massage
Certified massage therapists can work your muscles and relieve tightness in muscle fibers that you can’t relax with regular stretching. While you’re getting the massage, focus on deep breathing. Be sure to drink lots of water afterward to help flush the toxins released from your muscles.
9. Use Acupuncture or Acupressure
There are many, many pressure points in the body, each corresponding to a certain muscle or muscle group. A trained acupuncturist can relieve tension in muscles quickly and painlessly.
10. Drink Green Tea
Drink antioxidant-rich green tea to help reduce damage to muscle tissue and speed healing. A healthy, supple muscle is a happy muscle.
11. Take a Mineral Supplement Rich in Magnesium!
This essential mineral aids in relaxation, nerve signaling and muscle contraction. Eat spinach, almonds and other nuts, squash, and fish to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium.