No matter how strong you are feeling, doing a few more extra rounds of pushups can be tough if the body is fighting against you. Yes, we’re talking about muscle fatigue, which develops due to several biochemical, environmental, nutritional and of course, physical reasons.
Muscle fatigue is the inability of the muscle to generate force due to pathological issues or continued periods of activity. The muscle starts functioning normally, but gets tired quickly and takes longer than usual to recover. In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of muscle weakness or fatigue. So stay tuned.
What Causes Muscle Fatigue?
Jane Kent-Braun mentioned in an issue of the “European Journal of Applied Physiology,” that muscle fatigue could be caused either by metabolic processes or due to the incompetence of the nervous system to communicate with the muscle tissue. Apart from that, impaired blood flow, loss of desire, and ion imbalance within the muscle can also lead to muscle fatigue. Below discussed are some of the causes of muscle fatigue.
- Anaerobic Respiration: To move a part of the body, our muscle doesn’t just need the energy to contract, but also oxygen to create this energy for muscle contractions. In the case of improper oxygen supply, the cells respire anaerobically, leading to the production of lactic acid. Lactic acid is the main culprit behind muscle fatigue and pain. It accumulates in the muscle tissues and reduces the pH, making it more acidic. This causes a tingling sensation in the muscle when you’re exercising.
- Ion Imbalance: For proper contraction, our muscles need interaction between Ca+ ion and troponin. But due to intensive exercises, we lose the active molecules outside the muscles through sweating. This loss of active sweating changes the osmotic gradient, which makes it difficult for the Ca+ ions to reach the muscle fiber. This often leads to painful muscle contraction or cramp.
- Aging: Aging causes the decline of the ATP, CTP and myoglobin levels, thereby reducing the ability of the muscle to function. Besides, aging even shrinks muscle fibers and hardens the connective tissues, making the contraction slower and harder to achieve. To minimize this occurrence, one should exercise and be active throughout the life. It will reduce the impact of aging on the muscles significantly by supplying oxygen.
- Injury Or Trauma: Injury or trauma is one of the most common reasons behind muscle fatigue. Injuries or trauma like pulling, sprains cause bleeding, which damage the muscle fibers. This is followed by inflammation or swelling, which makes the muscle weak and tired.
- Illness And Infections: Another common cause of temporary muscle fatigue is infection or disease, which results in muscle inflammation. It’s quite easy to recover from muscle fatigue caused due to illness and infections, but if the inflammation is severe, then recovery can take a bit longer. It can even lead to chronic fatigue syndrome, commonly called CFS. Diseases which cause extreme inflammation include HIV, influenza, hepatitis C, glandular fever and Lyme Disease. Chronic diseases like
peripheralarterial disease, heart diseases, anemia, chronic lung diseases and diabetes can also weaken the muscles.
- Nutrient Deficiencies: Our muscles need certain electrolytes and minerals to perform at the optimum level. So if you’re experiencing sudden muscle cramps and fatigue, you could be deficient in minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The said minerals are vital for the proper functioning of the muscles. You can reverse this condition by eating foods rich in minerals, such as milk, white meat, and pomelo.
- Metabolic Fatigue: The depletion of glycogen and ATP within the muscle reduces its ability to generate power contractions, resulting in muscle fatigue. Apart from that, accumulation of reactive oxygen species like Mg2+ ions also induces fatigue.
- Not Warming Up: Doing strenuous and intensive exercises without warming up can also lead to muscle fatigue. When you’re straight away exercising, the muscles get surprised by the sudden activity, leading to fatigue and cramps. Hence, you must stretch before and after every exercise routine. It won’t just prevent muscle fatigue, but will even improve your flexibility with time.
- Lack Of Use: Deconditioning or lack of muscle fitness is also a cause of muscle
offatigue. In this case, the muscle fibers are replaced with fat, though partially, which makes the muscles floppy. The floppiness makes it tiring to do things, which were once easier to do when the muscles were fit. Lack of muscle fiber usually occurs due to an inactive or sedentary lifestyle and can be reversed easily with a regular exercise regime.
- Loss Of Desire: Nerves do not just control muscle contractions, but even determine the sequence, number, and force of the muscular contractions. Most of the muscle movements need a force, which is below what muscles can generate. This loss of desire because of muscle soreness tend to have a strong negative impact on the muscle activity.
Muscle fatigue and weakness can be easily reversed with physiotherapy and exercises. But your first aim should be to prevent it, especially when it’s due to inactivity. It’s always great to be fit, regardless of the age.
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