Many of us have experienced seemingly random muscle tremors in the middle of a hard workout or yoga class. Often, it happens while holding a challenging pose or going through a difficult movement, but muscle shakes can also show up while we’re in a moment of relative rest — holding a relaxed position or breathing into a deep stretch.
Where does this shaking come from? It can feel very strange, as though the body has a mind of its own. Some yogis, especially beginners, may be concerned that it’s a sign they are doing something wrong, or even feel embarrassed by it. However, muscle quivers during yoga are typically a normal response to exertion, and there are a few things you can do to control it when it happens.
In today’s post, we’re going over what these muscle shakes are, why they happen, and what you can do about them — or if you need to do anything about them at all. Read on to learn more, and put your new knowledge into practice with a yoga fitness class from Wilmington Yoga!
Why Muscles Shake During Yoga
Our muscles are not solid objects — they are made up of many strands of fibers, and when you use a muscle, your brain sends a signal to that muscle’s fibers to contract. However, the fibers don’t all contract at once. Some work while others rest, then they trade places, like runners passing off a baton in a relay race.
Normally, this coordination happens without you even thinking about it, but there are a few scenarios that can mess up the trade-off.
1. Muscle Fatigue
In most cases, muscle shakes are a physiological response to exertion. When your muscles are fatigued, the usual trade off between muscle fibers can get a little unsteady. If we keep up with the runners and batons metaphor, your little runners are exhausted and stumbling as they slap the baton into their teammate’s hand. But their teammate is still recovering from their first lap, and will hurry to pass the baton back. This sloppy back-and-forth results in rapid contracting and releasing of your muscle fibers, giving you that familiar, uncontrollable trembling sensation.
Quivering muscles are especially common for beginner yogis or anyone who is working out a new muscle group for the first time. With time and practice, as your strength and endurance grow, your muscle fibers will be able to handle the trade-off more elegantly, and it will take more effort to overexert them.
Another common culprit behind muscle shakes is dehydration. Unlike fatigue-related muscle shakes, which are a normal response to working hard, dehydration-related muscle shakes are a symptom of imbalance in your body.
When you’re low on fluids, it can cause an imbalance in your body’s level of electrolytes: important minerals that help transmit the electrical impulses that tell your muscles to contract. Without electrolytes, your muscles can’t fire properly, and are far more likely to get a little out of sync, leading to tremors.
Make sure to remain hydrated all day long. We also recommend drinking a beverage with added electrolytes two to three hours before your yoga practice.
3. Inadequate Sleep
Finally, not getting enough sleep the night before (or after) a tough workout can wreak havoc on your body’s performance. Sleep is when your body repairs muscles and recovers energy for the next day. If you’re not giving your body the tools it needs to heal between workouts, how can you expect it to perform perfectly during exertion?
Sleep is your magic reset button. If you’re noticing muscle tremors early on in a yoga workshop or workout, think about how much rest you got the night before. Chances are, your muscles haven’t fully recovered from the last time they were fatigued. Your runners are still tired! So head to bed early and make sure they get some rest.
How To Stop Muscle Shakes
Now that you know where the muscle shakes come from, you know how to prevent them from happening. In many cases, they’re a normal, healthy response to a good workout, a sign that your body is growing stronger. However, it’s important to listen to your body and make sure not to push it too hard. If a muscle starts shaking very early on in a session, that’s a sign that you may want to take a rest day instead.
Get enough sleep, stay hydrated, and don’t overwork your body.
However, you can often expect a little quivering at the end of a great workout, and what is a yogi to do when you’re in the middle of a pose and one of your hamstrings goes rogue? Is it safe to hold the pose and try to remain focused? How much shaking is too much?
Here’s our advice: focus on your breathing with smooth inhales and exhales, and take account of your eyes and the root of your tongue. If you have to restrict or hold your breath, or you are holding tension in your face or tongue, your body has likely had enough and it’s time to move out of the position.
Additionally, pay extra close attention to your alignment when one of your muscles starts to quiver. Slipping into poor form can increase your risk of injury, so if you can’t hold the correct pose, release it. Chug a glass of water after yoga class, and make sure to get to bed early that night. Your body will be refreshed and ready for a brand new day of yoga tomorrow — muscle shakes or not!
Perfect Your Practice At Wilmington Yoga
Are you ready to get your muscles moving? If you’re in the Wilmington area, we encourage you to visit our yoga studio! We offer classes and yoga workshops for every ability level, and teach more than 150 classes every week, so no matter what your schedule looks like, we’ll find space to squeeze you into ours!