The Real Reasons Your Muscles Feel Tight

If your muscles feel tight when you wake up, post-workout, or at the end of a long day sitting at your desk, you're not alone. Tight muscles aren't just a problem that serious weightlifters have — anyone can suffer from that feeling that a muscle is being stretched just a bit tighter than it should be. Here are a few things that could be causing that tightness, and how to solve it.

Exercise is the most common culprit when it comes to tight muscles. This means you've gone overboard at the gym or during your workout and your muscles are tight as a result — but remember, a hard workout can be as simple as a one-mile jog for someone who's new to fitness, or as intense as back-to-back CrossFit classes for a veteran athlete. If this happens occasionally, that's not bad, but if it's a regular occurrence, that's a sign that you're pushing yourself too hard in every workout and you should ease up on the weight, volume, or number of repetitions you're doing (via The Physio Company).

Hydration can also play a role in muscles feeling tight, which is why some people wake up to that feeling of tightness even if they didn't work out the day before. Make sure you're maintaining a steady level of hydration throughout the day, not just during your workout (via Aaptiv).

Why else are muscles tight?

You also might notice tightness after a day of sitting at your desk. Bad news: Hours of sitting in that position can make certain muscles tight, thanks to their restricted movement. For example, sitting at a desk forces glute muscles to stretch while hip flexors are shortened, so when you stand up and your hip flexors start to stretch and lengthen, you may feel a tension in your hips. This can get worse over time, so make sure that at work, you take regular standing and stretching breaks, and make sure that you're doing things like working those glute muscles when you're out of the office (via ACE Fitness).

Aging may also have something to do with it, unfortunately. As we age, we naturally get more stiff and inflamed as a result, which can lead to issues like arthritis, but even before arthritis, the general feeling of tightness and stiffness is normal (via You can help ease these symptoms of aging by eating an anti-inflammatory diet and making time to walk and work on your mobility.