How to Loosen Contracted Muscles

Muscles contract when being used and will relax or loosen when not in use. However, your muscle may sometimes stay tight or suddenly involuntarily contract. An involuntarily contracted muscle is often called a cramp or a spasm. Muscle cramps can occur for different reasons. Usually overuse is the most common reason, but dehydration, vitamin deficiencies and certain medications can also cause muscle contractions. Several different options can help to loosen a contracted muscle, depending on the exact cause of your muscle cramp.

A man is stretching his legs outside.
Credit: bernardbodo/iStock/Getty Images

Step 1

Stretch out your muscle. Although initially painful, stretching a contracted muscle helps it to loosen and relax. The exact stretch will depend on which muscle is cramped. Many times, leg muscles are affected. Sit on the floor with your legs spread wide and outstretched in front of you. Slowly bend your upper body over the affected leg, reaching toward your toes. Do not bounce your muscles but gently lean forward.

Step 2

Massage your contracted muscle. Using your fingers, gently press into the muscle and rub in a circular motion. The pressure relaxes a contracted muscle. If you are unable to loosen your muscle, schedule a massage with a physical or massage therapist.

Step 3

Drink plenty of water to help loosen your contracted muscle. Many times, muscle cramps occur because of dehydration. Water and sports drinks relieve your muscle contraction.

Step 4

Add more potassium to your diet. For a muscle contraction, eat a banana or drink orange juice. The potassium helps to loosen your muscles.

Step 5

Apply heat to your affected muscle. Take a warm shower or bath to help the muscle relax. Apply a heating pad or hot water bottle to the muscle. The heat allows your muscle to loosen.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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