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Why Are My Muscles Shaking?

As a physical therapist, I often encounter clients who are concerned about their muscles shaking during exercises or certain movements. However, it’s important to understand that muscle shaking is not always a sign of weakness or impending injury. In fact, it can be a natural and even beneficial response from the body.

When muscles shake, it’s typically due to a combination of factors, including fatigue, neuromuscular activation, and muscle recruitment patterns. Let’s break it down:

1. Muscles shake when they’re fatigued because they’re working harder than usual. This can happen during intense exercise or when holding a position for an extended period. When the muscle fibers become fatigued, they struggle to maintain a steady contraction, leading to the characteristic trembling or shaking sensation.

2. Muscle shaking can also occur as a result of neuromuscular activation. When you’re performing a new or challenging movement, your brain and nervous system are working hard to coordinate the firing of motor units within the muscle. This process can sometimes result in slight tremors as the nervous system fine-tunes the muscle activation patterns.

3. Sometimes, muscles shake because the body is recruiting additional muscle fibers to assist with the task at hand. This is especially common during exercises that target stabilizing muscles or require a high level of coordination. The shaking is often a sign that the body is recruiting and activating the necessary muscle fibers to maintain stability and control.

It’s important to note that muscle shaking is not inherently a bad thing. In fact, it can be a sign that your body is adapting and working hard to meet the demands you’re placing on it. As a physical therapist, I often encourage my clients to embrace the shaking sensation as a sign of progress rather than a cause for concern.

Of course, it’s always important to listen to your body and exercise caution if you experience pain or discomfort along with muscle shaking. However, in many cases, a little shaking is simply your body’s way of rising to the challenge and becoming stronger and more resilient over time.

Dr. Daniel Komforti, Physical Therapist
Dr. Daniel Komforti
On a mission to help active adults change their narrative and stay active for a lifetime with more confidence.
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