Why Do Your Muscles Get Sore After a Workout?

Posted on February 07 2020

Why Do Your Muscles Get Sore After a Workout?

Have you ever wondered why you experience muscle soreness after certain types of exercises?

Muscle soreness typically appears 24 to 48 hours after you’ve engaged in a new activity or after you increase either intensity and/or duration of your workout.

Muscle soreness after an exercise is known as Delayed Onset Muscle soreness, or DOMS for short. Besides the muscle soreness, other symptoms of DOMS include reduced muscle strength and a reduced range of motion.

Contrary to popular belief, lactic acid build-up in muscles during exercise does not cause DOMS. Lactic acid can indeed cause muscle soreness, but not the kind that lasts for more than 2 hours after an exercise.

Instead, microscopic damages of muscle fibers occur when you're engaging in resistance training. The damage results in inflammation and increased blood flow to the area, which then stimulates the pain receptors in your muscles, making them more sensitive to movement. These microscopic damages are temporary. The muscle rebuilds itself to get stronger in response to the soreness. DOMS is a actually a signal that shows you that your muscles are adapting to a new activity.

Whether you are a bodybuilder or engaging in martial arts, you will experience DOMS whenever you try a new exercise or increase the intensity of your regular workouts. No one is immune to muscle soreness.

People starting an exercise program need guidance because DOMS and muscle cramps can be intimidating. Beginners or people who don't exercise regularly might feel very sore after simple exercises because they are not familiar with the feeling. DOMS is the reason why many people quit workout classes after one or two days.

How to Ease Muscle Soreness

Now that you know what causes muscle sores, what can you do to alleviate the pain associated with them? Here are some remedies that are very helpful during the recovery process:

  1. Massage

A sports or trigger-point massage helps relax the tight, sore muscles. Going for a massage some hours after a workout will reduce the discomforts associated with muscle soreness.

  1. Stretching

Stretching your muscles for 10 to 20 minutes after a workout will help prevent muscle soreness. Before getting started with your exercises, always remember to warm up your body.

  1. Do light exercises

Don't stop exercising at once. Muscle soreness is a sign that your muscles have been stretched and are now getting stronger. Doing light exercises such as walking and swimming after a vigorous workout helps eliminate lactic acid build up in your muscles.

  1. Take a warm bath

Taking a warm bath after exercise helps ease discomfort associated with muscle soreness. It loosens the tight muscles and boosts blood circulation, which provides temporary relief to muscle soreness.

  1. Use an ice pack

If you notice swelling in a muscle or joint area that feels warm, consider wrapping an ice pack with a thin towel and then place it on the itching area for 15 to 20 minutes. If you are experiencing muscle soreness without swelling, apply a heat pack on the affected muscle for 15 to 20 minutes to augment blood circulation.

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