What is muscle fatigue?
At the start of exercising or when performing tasks, your muscles feel strong and resilient. However, over time and after repeating movements, your muscles may begin to feel weaker and tired. This can be defined as muscle fatigue.
Muscle fatigue is a symptom that decreases your muscles’ ability to perform over time. It can be associated with a state of exhaustion, often following strenuous activity or exercise. When you experience fatigue, the force behind your muscles’ movements decrease, causing you to feel weaker.
While exercise is a common cause of muscle fatigue, this symptom can be the result of other health conditions, too.
Exercise and other physical activity are a common cause of muscle fatigue. Other possible causes of this symptom include:
- Addison’s disease
- anaerobic infections
- cerebral palsy
- chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- hepatitis C
- influenza (the flu)
- lack of exercise
- lactic acid production
- mineral deficiency
- muscular dystrophy
- myasthenia gravis
- myositis (muscle inflammation)
- poor muscle tone due to a medical condition
- sleep deprivation
Muscle fatigue can occur anywhere on the body. An initial sign of this condition is muscle weakness. Other symptoms associated with muscle fatigue include:
If you begin having difficulty performing daily tasks or if your symptoms worsen, seek immediate medical attention. This could be an indication of a more serious health condition.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause of your muscle fatigue and accompanying symptoms. If you’ve been experiencing muscle fatigue, especially if it’s unrelated to exercise, call your doctor. Your doctor will evaluate your medical history and symptoms to rule out more serious health conditions.
In many cases, your muscle fatigue will improve with rest and recovery. Staying hydrated and maintaining a healthy diet can also improve your recovery time, protect against muscle fatigue and weakness, and ensure you have enough nutrients to promote healthy muscle function.
Be sure to stretch before and after strenuous activity. Warming up can loosen your muscles and protect against injury. If your muscle fatigue persists, hot and cold therapy are techniques that can reduce inflammation and discomfort.
Other cases of muscle fatigue may require medical attention. Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory or antidepressant medications. If your muscle fatigue is more severe, you doctor may recommend physical therapy to increase your mobility and speed your recovery. Discuss your options with your doctor before pursuing treatment.
Muscle fatigue decreases the amount of force you use to perform muscle actions. This symptom is often considered no cause for alarm unless your fatigue doesn’t improve with rest.
In more severe cases, muscle fatigue can be an indication of a more serious disorder. Left untreated, this condition can lead to overwork and increase your risk of injury. Do not self-diagnose. If your muscle fatigue is paired with other irregular symptoms or if your condition doesn’t improve after a few days, schedule a visit with your doctor.