Muscle Pain: Is it From Overworked or Underutilized Muscles?

Muscle Pain: Is it From Overworked or Underutilized Muscles? (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Distinguishing Between Good and Bad Muscle Pain

If you are experiencing muscular pain that prevents you from doing your everyday non-exercise activities, then it is abnormal muscle pain. If the pain lasts for more than 3 days it is also abnormal. If your pain comes as soon as you start or stop exercising, it is a sign that you’re not doing the exercise correctly or the exercise is not biomechanically sound.

Muscular Pain Prevents You from Doing Your Non-Exercise Activities (Image Source: Shutterstock)
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • myofascial pain syndrome
  • vaccinations
  • autoimmune diseases

Hypertonic Muscle

A hypertonic muscle is one that has an excessive amount of tension. The amount of tension, or tone, on a muscle, depends on the level of contraction. A hypertonic muscle can be either globally tight or it can have a myofascial trigger point. A myofascial trigger point refers to a small focused area of muscle tightness within a muscle.

How To Best Manage Muscle Hypertonicity | ChiroUp


A muscle that is overused becomes fatigued and it becomes more tense. The pulling forces of the muscle on the tendons and bone attachments increase, which causes pain. The brain’s response to this pain is to signal the muscle to contract. The result is muscle tightness, which is the body’s protective mechanism to limit the use of the muscle.

Muscle Splinting

Muscle tightening may result if the surrounding sacroiliac joints and joint capsules become irritated. Muscle tightening is another mechanism the body uses to protect the injured area. In this case, the tightened muscles act as a splint, lessening motion and allowing time for the joint to heal.

Muscle Tightening Is Mechanism The Body Uses To Protect The Injured Area (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Adaptive Shortening

Adaptive shortening occurs when a muscle becomes accustomed to a shortened position after being kept in that state for a long period of time. This often happens when sitting for an extended period of time. The hip flexor muscles are shortened when you sit. If you are inactive in a sitting position for a long period of time, your hip flexor muscles may adapt by shortening. This will result in an unnatural anterior tilt of the pelvis. This may cause ongoing pain in the hip area.

Overstretched Muscles

When a muscle is overstretched, the stretch reflex mechanism within the muscle spindle is activated, resulting in muscle spasm. Overstretching may result from a fall or other accident or it could be the result of overdoing it when you are performing a static stretching routine as part of an exercise program or incorrectly doing an exercise.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

Myofascial pain syndrome is a condition where pressure on muscle trigger points causes pain in the muscle. It most often occurs after repeated use of the muscle while working or exercising. This condition is characterized by a deep ache within the muscle that won’t go away. People who are prone to anxiety and stress are more likely to experience myofascial pain.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome by Dr. Andrea Furlan MD PhD

Muscle Tension Relief

Now that we understand the cause and symptoms of these various muscle pains, you may be wondering how you can find relief. Don’t worry, the muscle tension that causes your pain can be relieved, if not entirely eliminated. Let’s look more closely at some muscle recovery tips that will help you feel more comfortable and keep your body in peak condition.

The Most Important Thing Is To Rest (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Should You See a Doctor?

Not all muscle pain can be resolved with home treatment and rest. You should make an appointment to see your doctor if the pain persists after five days of following the recommended home treatments provided above. If you get sudden muscle pain without any identifiable cause, you should also go and see your doctor.

Not All Muscle Pain Can Be Resolved with Home Treatment (Image Source: Shutterstock)


Muscle pain can result from both overused and underused muscles. Overused muscle pain may come from working out too much without rest, improperly performing exercises, and overstretching the muscle. Underused muscles can become adaptively shortened, as often happens to the hip flexors when a person sits for too long.



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