Regular exercise is a good habit to help reduce stress and back pain

Evidence suggests that regular exercise and being physically fit can reduce stress levels. There is no evidence that exercising at a specific intensity is more beneficial than another, but it does seem that aerobic-type exercises such as walking, running, cycling, or swimming are particularly useful to reduce stress levels.1

For people who struggle with chronic back pain, core stability exercises appear to be more useful than general exercises to relieve pain and may improve physical function.1 However, there is no harm in general exercises such as walking, cycling, or swimming from day 1 to manage acute back pain. In fact, a study indicated that recreational exercise was just as good as back exercises to manage acute back pain.1

Strategies that may reduce muscle cramps

Although there does not seem to be a uniform way to prevent muscle cramping, some interventions may be of benefit. Having a regular stretching routine may help to reduce the risk of muscle cramps.2 Electrolyte imbalances, often induced by sweating during exercise, have been shown in studies to increase the risk for a muscle cramp. This may also be accompanied by dehydration.2 Consumption of an electrolyte-containing sports drink or rehydration drink which replaces some electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium may be better at reducing the risk of a muscle cramp than just plain water.2

If you have a painful muscle, muscle spasm or muscle injury, speak to your healthcare provider to determine a suitable treatment option for you.

Frequently asked questions about muscle pain management and relief


One of the body’s responses to stress is muscle activation.4 Stress can be a very strong risk factor for musculoskeletal disorders, including neck pain and shoulder pain. This may be associated with a stressful job, such as time pressure, happiness in your job, or trying to balance work with your personal life. It may also be associated with general stressors in your life.5


Fibromyalgia literally means muscle/soft-tissue pain. Symptoms include generalised muscle pain, stiffness, or soreness. The pain can occur in different areas of the body at different times and may increase during a menstrual cycle or with sudden weather changes. A key feature of fibromyalgia is severe tiredness (fatigue) and sleep disorders. Pain appears to improve with medication, physical exercise, and improvement in sleep patterns.6 Please speak to your healthcare professional if you are concerned about any muscle pain or stiffness.


Antioxidants, vitamin D, protein and carbohydrate drinks may play a role in preventing and reducing muscle pain.7 Data showed that protein and antioxidant supplements can minimize the effect of soreness and fatigue associated with strenuous activity.7 Furthermore, fish oil and vitamin D supplementation are suggested to have a significant impact to alleviate muscle soreness.7 Curcumin or turmeric have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and may help to reduce muscle damage and facilitate quicker recovery.7 Please check with your healthcare provider if these nutritional support are suitable for you.

DISCLAIMER: This editorial has been brought to you by Radiant Health. Content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide or replace medical or other professional advice. For more information, speak to your Healthcare Professional. NZ-2023-03-0005. TAPS NP19283.

  • 1. Pedersen BK, Saltin B. Exercise as medicine – evidence for prescribing exercise as therapy in 26 different chronic diseases. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2015;25(Suppl. 3):1–72. doi: 10.1111/sms.12581.
  • 2. Maughan RJ, Shirreffs SM. Muscle Cramping During Exercise: Causes, Solutions, and Questions Remaining. Sports Medicine 2019;49(Suppl 2):S115–S124.
  • 3. Lau WY, Kato H, Nosaka K. Water intake after dehydration makes muscles more susceptible to cramp but electrolytes reverse that effect. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med 2019;5:e000478. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000478.
  • 4. Leistad RB, Sand T, Westgaard RH, Nilsen KB, Stovner LJ. Stress-induced pain and muscle activity in patients with migraine and tension-type headache. Cephalalgia 2005;26:64–73.
  • 5. Hämmig O. Work- and stress-related musculoskeletal and sleep disorders among health professionals: a cross-sectional study in a hospital setting in Switzerland. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2020;21:319.
  • 6. Beebe FA, Barkin RL, Barkin S. A Clinical and Pharmacologic Review of Skeletal Muscle Relaxants for Musculoskeletal Conditions. Am J Ther 2006;12:151-171.
  • 7. Qamar MM, Javed MS, Dogar MZ, Basharat A. Non-pharmacological interventions to combat exercise-induced muscle damage, a little natural tax on work out. J Pak Med Assoc 2018;69(11):1686-1690.