Tamworth Sports & Remedial Massage

How Dehydration Can Cause Muscle Pain: Understanding the Link

The Importance of Hydration for Muscle Health

Water is essential for every cell in our body, including our muscles. When we don’t drink enough water, our bodies can become dehydrated, leading to a number of negative health effects. Dehydration can also directly impact our muscles, causing them to become sore, stiff, and painful.

Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration can present in multiple ways. Below is a list of common signs of hydration. 

  • Thirst: This may be quite obvious, however feeling thirsty is one of the earliest signs of dehydration. By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already partially dehydrated.
  • Dark urine: This is a pretty clear and easy way to tell if you are dehydrated. Urine that is darker in colour than usual, such as dark yellow or amber, can indicate dehydration.
  • Dry mouth and lips: Reduced saliva production can lead to a dry mouth and parched lips.
  • Infrequent urination: This is a sign that your body may be conserving water.
  • Fatigue and weakness: Dehydration can cause fatigue and weakness as your body struggles to function properly without adequate fluid levels.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness: A drop in blood pressure from not being hydrated may result in dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Headache: Dehydration can potentially trigger headaches or migraines.
  • Dry skin: Insufficient hydration can cause your skin to become dry, flaky, or less elastic.
  • Rapid heart rate: As your body tries to compensate for the reduced blood volume, an increased heart rate could be a result of dehydration.
  • Sunken eyes: Due to a decrease in fluid levels in the body, the eyes can appear sunken from dehydration.
  • Muscle soreness: sore, stiff and painful muscles can be a result of dehydration. 

How Dehydration Affects Muscles

Dehydration causes a decrease in the amount of water and electrolytes in our bodies. Electrolytes are minerals that are essential for proper muscle function, including calcium, potassium, and sodium. When our bodies are dehydrated, our muscles can’t get the nutrients and electrolytes they need, which can cause them to become fatigued, cramp, or feel sore.

Dehydration can also cause an increase in the level of lactic acid in our muscles. Lactic acid is a byproduct of energy production in our muscles and normally is flushed out of our bodies through sweat and urine. However, when our bodies are dehydrated, lactic acid can build up in our muscles, leading to muscle soreness and stiffness.

How to Prevent Dehydration-Induced Muscle Pain

The best way to prevent dehydration-induced muscle pain is to stay properly hydrated. It’s recommended that adults drink at least 2L of water per day, but this can vary depending on factors such as age, gender, activity level, and climate. It’s important to also replenish electrolytes lost through sweat, especially during exercise.

Eating foods high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables, can also help keep the body hydrated. Avoiding diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol can help prevent dehydration as well.

Treating Dehydration-Induced Muscle Pain

If you are experiencing muscle pain due to dehydration, the first step is to drink plenty of water and electrolyte-rich fluids. Resting the affected muscles and applying heat or cold therapy can also help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen can also be effective in managing muscle pain.

In severe cases of dehydration, hospitalization may be necessary to restore electrolyte balance and prevent further complications.


Dehydration can have a significant impact on our overall health and can cause muscle pain, stiffness, and soreness. Staying properly hydrated is key to maintaining healthy muscles and preventing dehydration-induced pain. If you are experiencing muscle pain or other symptoms of dehydration, it’s important to take steps to address the issue, including drinking plenty of water and seeking medical attention if necessary. If you are struggling to increase your hydration, we have an in-house nutritionist who can help you improve your current routine and help you find an approach that suits your lifestyle and goals. 


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