Muscle fatigue: Causes and management

Muscle fatigue and weakness are commonly used terms. The repeated use of muscles can lead to a decline in their performance over time. This is also known as muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue can limit athletic performance and reduce your ability to perform strenuous tasks for longer periods. Muscle weakness can come to include a lot of things ranging from tiredness to not willing to work at all.

Primary, or true muscle weakness describes the inability of the muscle to perform a certain task the first time you try. There is a reduction in the force which the muscle can exert, however hard you try.

Muscle tiredness, on the other hand, also called asthenia, is the sense of weariness or exhaustion you feel when using the muscle. While the muscle itself isn’t completely weak, it takes you more effort to manage a task. This type of muscle tiredness is often seen in people suffering from depression and sleep disorders; commonly due to the reduced speed with which the muscle gets its energy supply.

Muscle fatigability – the quick tiring of a muscle and long recovery to normal is another form of muscle fatigue. This often goes with muscle tiredness but is particularly seen in some uncommon conditions such as myasthenia gravis and myotonic dystrophy.

There are various causes of muscle fatigue. Some of them include:

Lack of use: Deconditioning or lack of use of muscles is one of the most common causes for muscle fatigue. This occurs as a result of an inactive lifestyle. When muscles aren’t in use, the fibers within them are partially replaced with fat. This leads to you getting tired easily. This kind of muscle weakness is reversible with regular exercise regimes.

Ageing: Our muscles tend to lose strength and become weaker as we age. However, it is possible to maintain and increase muscle strength and power with a regular and safe exercise routine.

Persistent chronic diseases: Many chronic diseases commonly cause muscle weakness. In some conditions this is due to reduced blood and nutrient supply to muscles. For example, in diabetes, raised blood sugar levels puts muscles at a disadvantage and they don’t perform so well. In addition, as diabetes progresses, the blood supply to small nerves is lost. When the nerve serving a muscle fiber dies then the muscle fiber also stops working. Even people suffering from heart disease can experience easy tiring of the muscles through a reduction in blood supply at times of high demand. This is because the heart is unable to keep up with the increased requirements of the exercising muscles, as it can’t pump blood as effectively as it should.

Muscle injury: Another common cause of muscle fatigue is muscle injury like pulls and sprains. In any muscle injury, bleeding from damaged muscle fibers occurs inside the muscle, followed by swelling and inflammation making them less strong and painful to use.

Other common causes of muscle fatigue are sleep disorders, stress, anxiety and depression which lead to general tiredness and muscle fatigability. Uncommon causes of muscle fatigue include, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), an underactive thyroid, dehydration, inflammatory diseases, nerve damage and genetic disorders.

Muscle fatigue doesn’t just manifest as tiredness. There are other common symptoms like:

Muscle cramps, or when the muscle tightens involuntarily

Muscle spasms, also commonly referred to as muscle twitches

Muscle soreness or pain which can range from mild to severe. One may experience aching, stiffness, or pain in the muscles that have been working hard. This soreness may last for several days after the activity that caused the muscle fatigue.

Reduction in athletic performance and endurance is another symptom of muscle fatigue. You may find that you’re not able to lift the same number of weights, run the same distance or perform the same number of repetitions and also not sustain the task you undertake for the same amount of time as before.

Slower recovery is also a common symptom of muscle fatigue. People with muscle fatigue find it difficult to get back to their tasks quickly after experiencing bouts of tiredness and weakness. You may feel sore and stiff for longer periods of time, and you may need to take more time off between workouts to allow your muscles to rest and recover.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, there are a few easy steps you can take to alleviate them.

Rest: Give your muscles time to rest and recover. Take rest days between workouts or strenuous tasks. Listen to your body when it signals that it needs a break to help prevent further tiredness and pain and aid recovery.

Hydrate: Staying hydrated is essential for muscle function. Adequate hydration helps to transport oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and remove waste products that can contribute to muscle fatigue. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially before, during, and after strenuous tasks and exercise for optimum muscle function.

Eat right: Eat a balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats to provide your muscles the nutrients they need to function efficiently and recover effectively.

Sleep: Muscle recovery processes require you to get good quality sleep every night. Aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night and establish a consistent sleep schedule to establish better sleep hygiene.

Stress management: Incorporating stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises, can help alleviate stress-related muscle fatigue. Stress management techniques can also promote relaxation and improve overall well-being.

Massage and stretch: Regular massages and gentle stretching can help improve blood flow, reduce muscle tension, and alleviate muscle fatigue. Massage therapy can also help reduce inflammation and promote muscle recovery.

Apart from following these tips to reduce other symptoms of muscle fatigue, you can use Zandu Fast Relief Gel to reduce the symptoms of pain and muscle cramps. This 1.5x stronger gel is made with active natural ingredients and provides relief in just 2 minutes.

While the strong Zandu Fast Relief Gel is useful for pain relief, it is necessary to see a doctor to discuss underlying causes of muscle fatigue if it is persistent.