If you feel like your shoulders are always tense and raised up to your ears, you’re not alone. Surveys show that shoulder pain affects around a quarter of the population. Although it may come and go for you depending on your activity, it can be a pain in more ways than one when it starts impacting day-to-day life by limiting your ability to enjoy hobbies and affecting performance at work.
Tension in the neck and shoulders is often caused by stress and poor posture, but other factors can contribute such as dehydration and magnesium deficiency. We look into what could be causing your shoulder tension and what you can to relieve it.
What causes tight shoulders?
As part of our “fight or flight” response to stress, our muscles tense up to protect us from what our body perceives to be a threat, even if the source of stress is not physical.
Being in the same position for too long, like many of us have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic while working from home and spending long hours sitting at a desk, contracts the same muscles for excess amounts of time. This can cause muscle knots, medically known as myofascial trigger points, where the muscle fibers are in a constant state of tension.
Slouching and hunching are common causes of shoulder, neck and back pain due to persistent strain on muscles that causes your body to adjust to these postures, causing discomfort when you change position to sleep or stand.
When your body loses water through perspiration, or you're not adequately hydrating, your risk of inflammation is higher as you don't have enough water in your blood for optimum circulation.
Magnesium is vital for over 325 biochemical reactions in the body and lack of it has been proven to negatively impact sleep quality, muscle, nerve and heart function. Modern diets and lifestyles have made magnesium a drastically less abundant mineral in our bodies, with levels significantly lower than anything experienced before. The consumption of sugar, alcohol, some chemical exposures and the prevalence of stress in our lives use our magnesium reserves.
How to relieve tight shoulder muscles
Standing, walking, gently moving and stretching throughout the day will make a huge difference. Try to make a habit of stretching while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew or the kettle to boil. Practising yoga regularly is an excellent way to prevent tight muscles.
Improve your posture
Sit up straight, with your shoulders back and down and your feet rested flat on the floor. Ensure your elbows are in line with the surface in front of you, and keep screens at eye level. Take regular breaks to stand or walk to keep muscles supple.
A gentle swim in a heated swimming pool can relax tense muscles, increase flexibility and maintain a good range of motion.
On average, eight glasses a day is recommended to prevent dehydration. Electrolyte drinks after exercise or in hot weather can also help to replenish essential lost minerals for muscle function.
Up your magnesium intake
Using a magnesium spray like MAGNESIUM EASE is the most effective method of absorption for the body: transdermal magnesium has been proven to be more effective than oral supplements such as tablets and capsules in delivering magnesium to the body. When applied directly to the skin, the magnesium enters the body quickly, bypassing the digestive system where many nutrients, including magnesium, are poorly absorbed.
Absorption into the body occurs by distribution around and through the cells that make up the skin. Some absorption takes place along hair follicles or through sweat ducts and hair follicles significantly contribute towards topical magnesium absorption by up to 40%.
Magnesium has many functions throughout the body, but in MAGNESIUM EASE we focus on its benefits as a way to ease tension, as a sleep aid and as a post-workout muscle reliever. Our formula contains pure and bioavailable magnesium chloride alongside lavender oil and arnica oil, to help relieve tension and inflammation.
Massage and gua sha
Applying pressure to tense muscles creates heat and stimulates blood flow to filter out toxins. Although the Traditional Chinese Medicine practise of gua sha is commonly associated with the face, you can apply the scraping motion from the base of the skull downwards towards your shoulders using an implement like THE TOOL. Ensure your skin is lubricated with an oil to prevent uncomfortable tugging—MAGNESIUM EASE works well for this while providing additional muscle-relieving benefits.
What are the benefits of magnesium for sore muscles?
Magnesium plays a fundamental role in muscle contraction, skeletal strength and energy production, helping to sustain the high oxygen consumption necessary for athletic performance. It is also essential for post-workout support, helping to prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Magnesium is crucial for proper muscle function. It works with other essential minerals in your body to keep the muscles loose and flexible. When you exercise or do some kind of physical activity, magnesium relaxes your muscles and controls their contractions. It helps lessen the build-up of lactic acid—which can cause muscular tension—and enables your muscles to get the oxygen they need.
Magnesium can also help reduce muscle tension and spasms, which can be painful and often occur as we fall asleep. Magnesium encourages the body to absorb calcium—another abundant mineral essential to good health—and prevent muscles and soft tissues from calcifying (hardening due to excess calcium). Inside the body, calcium and magnesium are in “competition”, binding with the same proteins within your muscles. A build-up of calcium causes muscles to over-contract, leading to spasms or twitches. Magnesium regulates those contractions and allows the muscles to relax.