What to know about muscle fatigue
Exercise is a common cause of muscle fatigue. Some health conditions can also prompt muscle fatigue, including muscle dystrophy.
Several remedies are available to relieve muscle fatigue, including nutritional supplements or caffeine.
In this article, we review possible causes and treatments for muscle fatigue.
What causes muscle fatigue?
Cancer, a stroke, and rhabdomyolysis can all produce muscle fatigue.
Strenuous activity and aging are two causes of muscle fatigue. But several health conditions can also produce muscle fatigue.
These medical conditions include:
- inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis
- chronic kidney failure
- muscular dystrophies
Treatments for muscle fatigue
When muscle fatigue is the result of strenuous activity or aging, treatment is usually unnecessary. In other cases, a doctor will try to identify the underlying cause of muscle fatigue and offer treatment.
An example of this is when a doctor recommends a healthy diet and regular exercise if obesity is causing muscle fatigue. As a person loses weight, they should notice their muscle fatigue getting better over time.
There are no formal guidelines for treating muscle fatigue as a symptom. But there are several possibilities for people experiencing muscle fatigue from strenuous activity or aging.
Amphetamines, ephedrine, and caffeine are synthetic products that promote resistance to muscle fatigue. These products are sometimes common in sport for enhancing performance.
In 2005, the World Anti-Doping Agency reported that more than half of substance abuse cases in sport involve either amphetamines and ephedrine.
On the other hand, caffeine is still legal in sports and has a similar effect on muscles. High doses of caffeine can enhance athletic performance during exercise.
Caffeine can help to reduce muscle fatigue after several types of exercise, such as running or weight training.
Several natural products can also help when a person experiences muscle fatigue from exercising or aging.
Ginseng is a herb with several possible health benefits, such as relieving muscle fatigue.
One 2017 review of research on the subject reports that red ginseng can improve muscle performance in people during weight training.
Garlic may also reduce muscle fatigue. The same 2017 review reports that raw garlic increases how long mice can run on a treadmill and how fast they recover.
The research paper in Experimental and Molecular Medicine also suggests that garlic can increase tolerance to running on a treadmill in people with heart disease.
There are three main categories of nutritional supplements for muscle fatigue:
Dietary supplements include products such as multivitamins or fish oil.
Lacking certain nutrients in the diet can lead to muscle problems. For example, a lack of vitamin D can cause muscle fatigue. Dietary supplements can help provide enough nutrition to keep muscles healthy.
Many people use ergogenic aids, such as creatine, in sport to improve muscle performance. This is a naturally occurring acid that helps to provide muscles with energy during movement.
Creatine is in foods such as red meat and seafood. It is also available as a supplement.
Sports foods contain a variety of substances that provide energy to muscles and improve performance. For example, the energy drink Red Bull contains a mixture of carbohydrates, taurine, and caffeine.
These products may suggest that they help reduce muscle fatigue, but the scientific evidence for these claims is lacking.
When to see a doctor
A healthcare professional can perform tests to identify the cause of muscle fatigue.
Anyone with muscle fatigue should speak to a doctor if it is not the result of exercising or aging.
Healthcare professionals can assess medical history and perform tests to identify the cause.
In some cases, muscle fatigue may be a sign of an underlying health condition. Without medical attention, the condition could worsen and cause further problems.
Muscle fatigue can be uncomfortable and disrupt a person's daily life. Strenuous activity or aging are common causes of muscle fatigue. Sometimes, muscle fatigue is a sign of an underlying medical condition. In these cases, it is important to see a doctor.
Many types of treatment exist for muscle fatigue. Doctors will aim to treat the underlying cause of the problem. They may also recommend a range of other treatments that can improve muscle performance and prevent fatigue.