Have you ever wondered why you wake up in the night with dull ache in your neck muscles or why your leg muscles feel tender and sore? We could take the easy route and chalk this up to life. Being active, sitting, standing, driving, sleeping, picking up the clutter in the house and bringing in a bag of groceries can all result in muscle pain. You don’t have to participate in extreme sports or be training for a triathlon to feel the soreness and tightness that comes with muscle pain. Of course there are times when muscle pain is more than just a strained muscle from carrying a load of laundry awkwardly or doing too much yard work. Many diseases and conditions involve muscle pain and it is important that if you’re dealing with consistent and chronically sore muscles that you get some professional medical advice. In this article we thought we’d break-down muscle pain and provide you with the facts on it and help you understand how you can heal, recover from and be proactive in preventing muscle pain from occurring. Muscle Pain Defined Muscle pain is technically called myalgia. Myalgia is often traced back to overuse injuries but can be a sign of a viral infection or other condition. Another term used to describe muscle pain is myofascial pain syndrome. All of these terms refer to the same thing - sore, inflamed, tender, tight muscles. Causes of Muscle Pain At its most basic, muscle pain is caused by inflammation in your muscles. Perhaps you did one too many repetitions in the weight room or you stretched your back when lifting your child out of the car - pretty much any type of action or activity can result in inflammation and the subsequent muscle pain. But this doesn’t mean that all muscle pain is associated with overuse or strain - this muscle pain can be a sign or symptom of a more severe condition or disease. As well some medications and vaccinations list muscle pain as side effects. Remember when you had your tetanus shot and your arm and shoulder ached for a day - yes this was muscle pain thanks to the vaccination. If you’re experiencing muscle pain in you upper neck, shoulders and back this can be a sign of stress. We hold tension in our neck and back and when we tighten up for too long and too often, our muscles will let us know with a pain alert. There is a range of disease and conditions associated with muscle pain. If your muscle pain lingers, becomes chronic or you can’t trace an incident as the cause for the muscle pain, it is time to contact your healthcare professional. There are many diseases and conditions that list muscle pain as their symptoms including arthritis, fibromyalgia, auto-immune disorders, the flu and lyme disease. Treating Muscle Pain Most often you can treat your muscle pain at home with some simple self-care routines. If you’re an athlete, an active individual or have a physical job, there is a pretty high chance that you’re going to experience muscle soreness and inflammation. To help aid in your recovery and to prevent this from occurring it helps to stretch your muscles, wear compression clothing post-workout, apply ice to sore areas, and to take supplements that are proven to reduce inflammation and aid in recovery. These simple steps can allow your muscles to heal themselves and prevent a more severe injury such as a tear or sprain from occurring. Maybe you’ve experienced instant muscle pain when lifting a heavy box or moving things around in the garage. An instant sharp pain in your muscles is a loud warning sign to stop what you’re doing and to rest. Don’t ignore this kind of muscle pain - if you continue to complete the activity you can end up severely damaging your muscle and could end up with a much worse injury than a sore quadricep or lower back. When this happens, think RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. By applying this simple treatment strategy you can likely ease your muscle pain in a couple of days and get back to your normal activities in no time at all. There are those of you who have a pre-existing condition or disease such as arthritis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, lyme disease or another auto-immune disease that is causing you to deal with muscle pain. In these cases, you have likely received a course of care from your doctor and other healthcare professionals. Typically this will include some medication to help settle the inflammation in your body, dietary changes to naturally heal your body and aid in the detoxification process, and likely you are taking some supplements to fill in the gaps that the medication and diet cannot achieve. In fact we’re seeing more and more people turn to natural supplements in efforts to heal their muscle pain - athletes, seniors, active individuals, those of you with arthritis or another auto-immune disease - have all learned of the effectiveness and benefit of natural supplementation. Common supplements include omega-3, L-glutamine, and other joint supplements. When supplements such as this are used in conjunction with a healthy eating plan, a regular stretching routine, and generally healthy lifestyle - it is possible to treat and ease your muscle pain. Many active people and athletes use recovery drinks and powders post-exercise to give their muscles the immediate nutrients they need to recover from a heavy work-out and ensure they are ready for the next day - it only makes sense to approach your muscle pain in the same way. What can you do to be proactive and prevent the muscle pain from ever occurring? Natural supplements, diet, exercise, stretching, medical advice, and reducing stress can all contribute to easing and preventing muscle pain.