Muscle Soreness – What Does It Mean?

Muscle soreness after a good workout is a common feeling. It’s that good soreness you feel after an exceptional workout or implementing a new exercise. Let’s say you had a great leg work out and the next day when you go to stand up from sitting, you say, “Oh man, my legs are sore.” Or maybe you did a super set of skull crushers along with kickbacks and your triceps are burning the next day. This is typical muscle soreness from a good workout.

Have you ever wondered why or how your muscles get sore? There are actually two types of soreness. The first is called immediate muscle soreness which is what you feel during or immediately after the exercise but quickly dissipates. The second one is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This signals a natural adaptive process that the body initiates after an intense workout. It appears 24 to 48 hours following the workout session and decreases after about 72 hours. Many studies have been done to evaluate the cause of DOMS, but findings are mixed. Current research accredits it to microscopic tears in the connective tissue surrounding the muscle. Most people affected by this soreness are individuals who have increased the intensity of their workouts or have participated in an exercise unfamiliar to them. Beginners or those who have a considerable lapse in training will also experience this type of soreness.

There are some things you can do to alleviate this soreness after your workout. Among these approaches are massage, stretching, warm bath, and anti-inflammatory medication. Some people feel soreness immediately after an intense workout and then go home and just want to lie down and rest because they’re so tired. What they don’t realize is that now your muscles will stiffen even more. It’s important to keep the blood flowing through your muscles and joints which will actually alleviate the stiffness of your muscles.

The positive part about DOMS is that once your body gets used to the intensity of the exercise you won’t experience this kind of soreness again until the intensity is raised. The reason for this is that DOMS has a tendency to create a rapid adaption response, meaning the muscles adjust to vigor exercise. Soreness will not occur until the intensity is changed.

Ultimately the best way to avoid DOMS is to gradually progress in increasing the intensity, frequency, or duration of your exercise routine. Warming up with 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise prior to weightlifting is another way to avoid this muscle soreness. Beginners should start by using light weights 2 to 3 times a week for at least a month and then slowly build upon that. Even experienced members who want to experience a new workout or sport should begin slowly.

So here it is. The breakdown on muscle soreness; how it happens, and what you can do to prevent it. Keep in mind the typical muscle soreness should go away within 24 hours. If it last more than 2 to 3 days or becomes worse you may want to see your physician. But, a little bit of muscle soreness is normal and typically a positive result of a great workout.