Muscle pain from stress and burnout: painfull and stiff muscles
in Stress

Muscle pain from stress and burnout: painfull and stiff muscles

Muscle pain during burn-out: Do you often have back, neck and shoulder complaints? Does it hurt when you twist or bend your head? Or do you feel a nagging convulsive pain between your shoulders or do you suffer from a stabbing pain or pain shoots between your shoulder blades which makes it difficult for you to move?

Stiff muscles are often the cause of a stiff neck. You may have slept the wrong way, made a crazy unexpected movement, caught a cold or overexerted your muscles. But it is also possible that you have back problems and pain in the neck or shoulders due to prolonged stress. What exactly is a stiff neck? What does stress do to our muscles? And can you do something about it?

Why a stiff neck?

Your neck is a ball-important crossroads where different muscles come together, such as the upper part of your back muscles and the muscles from your skull. The nerves and muscles in your neck connect your head with the rest of your body. With a stiff neck, one or more of these muscles are stiff and painful, so it hurts when you twist or bend your head.

The stiffness in your neck can radiate to your shoulders, back and head. Because of this, a stiff neck can also cause headaches and dizziness.

What does stress do to our muscles?

Our body reacts to stress. Stress affects muscle tension. Too much tension can cause overexertion, resulting in a stiff neck or back pain. When under stress, our muscles tighten to react to danger. For example, you can run away from a dangerous situation.

The problem is if you experience stress for a long time and your muscles remain tense for a long time. Stress can make people cramp up completely. Even though stress could cause pain in all the muscles of your body, the muscles in your neck and shoulders generally suffer the most. Often the neck, shoulders and back slowly start to get stuck. More and more people have to deal with such complaints due to incessant work pressure or personal problems.

Muscle pain with burn-out

Muscle pain is not an unknown phenomenon for people who exercise regularly. However, it is also possible that it is caused by another cause, such as burn-out. However, the connection between the two is not always clear, so people are confused about the cause of that pain. It is possible that this is experienced as muscle pain during burn-out. But it is also possible that painful, stiff and stiff muscles are noticed.

However, if you don’t do sports intensively, have a lot of stress on a daily basis and continuously suffer from muscle pain, the cause may be a burn-out. But what exactly is causing this pain, what are the consequences and what can you do about it? Some more information about this is certainly in order here.

First, it is important to know exactly what muscle pain is. In many cases it concerns the accumulation of lactate (lactic acid) in the muscles. This is especially the case when sport is intensive and the muscles are stressed regularly. In that case, the muscle pain is not harmful at all and just a signal that you have trained hard. Lactate is a waste, which in a healthy body is discharged through the blood.

However, if this pain persists chronically and sports are not practised, it is probably due to physical and psychological stress. Of course, muscle pain during a burn-out can be caused by several factors.

Muscle Pain during stress and burn-out

1 | A lack of minerals and vitamins

If a body is in a state of constant stress, it is less good at absorbing and using nutrients. Some of them, such as the minerals magnesium and calcium and vitamins D and C, are responsible for the health of muscles and bones.

Therefore, if there is a chronic shortage of these nutrients, the muscles do not get the necessary support to relax and contract properly. A shortage translates into persistent muscle pain and/or cramps.

2 | Hormonal imbalance

However, the structure and functioning of the muscles also depend on certain hormones. For example, testosterone builds muscle fibres, adrenaline and cortisol activate them in periods of stress, and so on. If an imbalance occurs, the muscles behave differently. In other words, they contract involuntarily or are under constant tension. As a result, the muscles start to hurt, cramps or are always stiff.

Muscle Pain during stress and burn-out

3 | To little sleep

Someone who has a lot of stress or suffers from a burn-out often has trouble sleeping. This in itself is an annoying and even dangerous health problem, but it also has a negative impact on the muscles in particular.

As a result, the body can no longer efficiently repair damaged muscle fibres, making them more vulnerable to overloading. As a result, they quickly start to hurt. This is often also the case with joints and bones!

Also read: What are the symptoms of a burnout: find it out!

4 | To much stress

Finally, muscle pain is often simply caused by psychological stress, however strange that may seem. After all, someone who suffers from burn-out experiences not only physical, but also psychological stress. As a result, the muscles are under tension all the time, which can literally make them stiff and sore.

In a way, this can be compared to sports: by contracting the muscles they are stiff the next day. In the case of a burnout, however, the muscle fibres are continuously pulled together – so that the pain does not disappear.

The causes of muscular pain during burnout are diverse, but in general they all play a role. Tackling and curing a burn-out cannot be approached from a narrow field of view. It is therefore important to consider all of the above (and even more) causes of muscle pain and to see them as a combination, rather than separate factors.

Muscle Pain during stress and burn-out

The consequences of muscular pain in case of burn-out

It goes without saying that muscle pain that never stops has a negative impact on the quality of life of the person in question. The following overview gives some more information about this:

1 | The muscles become overtired

As already mentioned, the tension in muscles during a burn-out can be compared to a workout that never stops. It is therefore only normal that the muscle fibres soon become chronically overloaded. This results in painful, stiff muscles.

2 | The muscles do not recover optimally

As if that were not bad enough, the body is also less able to dispose of and process accumulated waste in the muscles. This is largely due to the fact that the blood of someone with a burn-out contains much less red blood cells. And these are precisely responsible for the removal of lactate and other waste products.

Actually, this is also related to the fact that breathing is more superficial and faster in someone with chronic stress. And that also causes the muscle cells to receive less oxygen, which makes them even less able to recover!

3 | Additional fatigue due to muscle pain

Finally, a negative consequence of persistent muscle pain is that those muscles simply can’t cope as well. Since they cannot recover optimally and are always bombarded with waste products, they also lose a large part of their strength and function. This often makes it very difficult for people suffering from burn-out to perform daily activities.

From carrying a shopping bag to driving a car, most of us take it for granted. However, if you suffer from chronic muscle ache due to a burnout, it becomes quite a challenge! Moreover, it makes you extra tired.

Also read: Why am I so tired: 7 causes of extreme fatigue

Muscle Pain during stress and burn-out

How to deal with muscle aches and pains in case of burn-out?

Of course it is important that you know what you can do yourself to reduce that muscle pain. There are some good methods that can help you do this:

  • Take magnesium and calcium. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals that help the muscles relax, and calcium supports them in contraction. They both help them to get a good night’s sleep, which in turn helps the recovery of overworked muscles.
  • Reduce stress. It is still the most important thing to learn how to deal with stress. After all, this not only has positive consequences for the muscle pain – but also for the burnout itself.

Structural approach against persistent muscle pain

If stress is the cause of a stiff neck or other muscle complaints, it is important – as far as possible – to do something about it. Find out for yourself when you experience stress and when you have neck or back pain. Maybe you need to learn to organise your time better or to solve problems and conflicts in time.

Do you usually experience complaints at work? Then consult your manager or company doctor to see what changes can be made.

In addition, you can reduce the pain by continuing to move and continue your daily activities as much as possible. A little pain while moving doesn’t mean that moving is harmful, but don’t force anything. Do some movement and relaxation exercises carefully. Many people also find warmth in the painful area pleasant. Heat reduces pain, relaxes the muscle and improves blood circulation.

The best way to get rid of muscle soreness in case of burn-out is of course to say goodbye to stress and burn-out. Read here how you can best recover from your burn-out:

Verstoorde werkrelatie werknemer

Training and coaching

Milltain provides training and coaching for private individuals and organisations. Our team consists of 35 coaches and trainers who have now helped thousands of people struggling with stress and burnouts.

Milltain for private individuals:

Are you stuck in life because of stress or a burnout? We developed an effective online programme that is fully focused on the complete recovery from a burnout. More than 2000 people have successfully completed this training!

Movement and nature play prominent roles in this training. Recovery is a process that contains peaks and troughs, and that’s something we know all about. Our highly experienced coaches provide you with active support.

Learn more: Stress and burnout coaching

Milltain for organisations:

With the help of a team of experienced trainers, Milltain supports organisations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. A single burnout can easily cost an organisation € 70,000 (or more!)

In addition to financial suffering, the human suffering is great. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before long, you find yourself in a negative vicious circle.

Get long-term absence and stress among employees under control with the help of our highly effective team training via Zoom or a similar tool.

This training has proven to be an international success for both managers (leadership skills) and employees (dealing with stress).

Learn more: Online team training

Contact us

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About the author
My name is Ruud Meulenberg. Owner and founder of Milltain and Meulenberg Training & Coaching.
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