Have you ever woken up feeling like your body got hit by a train overnight? Even though you feel fine otherwise, the mysterious aches from head to toe seem to come out of nowhere, and of course, they beg the question, why is my body sore? Sure, sometimes it's clear enough that the boxing class you took yesterday simply kicked your butt (and the rest of your body for that matter), but other times, the reasons behind the aches and pains just aren't all that obvious.
First of all, don't let yourself get carried away. Waking up feeling super sore and not knowing why doesn't necessarily mean you're dying, nor does it automatically mean you're going to lose control of all your major muscle groups. (These are definitely both things I have needlessly worried about when my body's felt sore for no apparent reason.)
There are tons of factors that could potentially be at play when you're feeling achey all over, and some of them might not be what you initially expect to be the cause. So, take a deep breath, remind yourself that everything will be OK, and consider one of these potential causes if you can't figure out why the hell you're so freaking sore.
And then maybe take a long, hot bubble bath, and treat yourself to a massage.
Yeah, in addition to the headache, the nausea, and all the things you did last night that you'd rather not remember, waking up with a hangover can also mean waking up with some severe body aches — and there's a reason for this.
A particularly heavy night of drinking can actually cause bacteria from your gut to leak into your bloodstream and alter your body's immune response, causing muscle aches. Yikes.
One of the "classic" reasons for muscle soreness is the flu or a bad cold. These muscles aches are basically like the subtle rumbles of thunder you feel before a big storm is about to hit. One minute you feel fine, then all of a sudden, you've got aches literally all over.
This definitely means it's time to go easy on yourself: Get some sleep and start chugging those fluids, girl.
Ugh, stress. It seems to be the cause of everything, from tension headaches to insomnia, and since stress levels seem to be constantly on the rise for Americans, it can't be ruled out as a potential cause for your mysterious soreness.
Stress increases your body's inflammatory response and weakens your immune system, which can definitely result in some nasty body aches all over.
Sometimes, getting your butt back onto the yoga mat or doing a few weight reps after you haven't been working out for a while leaves you feeling way more sore than usual the next day, even if you didn't feel like the workout was that hard when you were doing it.
The technical term for this is delayed onset muscle soreness, and worry not, because it's totally normal. All it really means is you've challenged muscles in your body that haven't been pushed in a little while, or maybe you've introduced them to a whole new way of working. Either way, this can lead to microscopic (and repairable) damage to the muscles, and once the muscles start to rebuild themselves, that's where the pain sets in — but that's also how you get stronger in the long run.
I know, I know — damned if you do, damned if you don't. But a lack of exercise can actually cause your muscles to hurt.
When you aren't using your muscles for long periods of time, it can lead to atrophy, muscles can shorten, and simple, daily activities like climbing the stairs or moving boxes feel way more tiring and exhausting than they should be.
You need to guzzle those eight glasses a day, baby! Muscle aches can definitely happen if you aren't hydrated enough, especially if you're exercising or moving around a lot during the day.
So let's definitely be careful not to get ahead of ourselves with this one, but if your body aches are persisting for longer than a few days, and you've ruled out the other possibilities above, it might be a good idea to check in with a doctor to see what's really going on. Muscle aches can be a symptom of mono, pneumonia, fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue syndrome, just to name a few.