It's common to hear complaints about aching backs, sore shoulders and stiff necks. Chronic tension in these areas is often caused by how we use our bodies as we go about our daily routines. Hunching over a desk for hours at a time, carrying trays full of food on one shoulder or bending improperly while lifting objects are just a few examples of what can cause repetitive use injuries to a muscle.

 Other causes can be attributed to enjoyable activities such as playing the guitar, gardening or playing golf. The unnatural posture and repetitive actions (or sometimes lack of action) required to engage in everyday activities can eventually cause muscles to weaken and tighten up while other muscles become overstretched and tight.

The pain you feel is your body telling you it doesn't like what you are doing. "Knots" sometimes develop when muscles are strained.  Applying a cold pack will reduce inflammation and numb the area.  Heat can also be very soothing as it calms the nerves, which encourages muscles to relax.

Massage effectively treats overstretched, tight, strained, weak muscles by helping to return them to their normal length and tone. Because this condition isn't created overnight, regular sessions using different techniques may be necessary for the best results. The longer we wait to address chronic muscle tension, the more difficult it will be to loosen things up.

Just making a few small changes on a regular basis will go a long way toward feeling better.  Good posture, stretching, using self-massage tools and staying well hydrated are good ways to keep muscles healthy. Unless you are an aspiring bodybuilder or American Ninja Warrior, skip the massive weights and exhausting obstacle courses. Go for something easy on the joints and tailored to build flexibility such as yoga. Your aching body will thank you as it ages.