Muscle Soreness

What is Soreness?

So you finally built up some well deserved confidence, made it to the gym, tried some new things, had a hardcore workout, and went home feeling super accomplished and swole. Until you wake up the next day, or the day after, and you just can’t move.

That soreness and tightness you feel long after a tough workout is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. This is a bit different from Acute Muscle Soreness, which happens during and immediately after a workout, and goes away within a few minutes to a few hours.

DOMS usually kicks in 24 to 48 hours after exercise. This is why you may feel even more sore two days after a particularly grueling workout, or the first time back into it after a long break. Have no fear, It usually goes away within a week.

Why Am I Sore?

Both types of soreness are symptoms of exercise induced muscle damage. This damage is perfectly normal and is part of the reason we exercise in the first place. When we exert our muscles, they become damaged, after which they can repair and grow. This muscle growth can lead to increases in strength, size, and endurance, depending on your exercise goals. The way our bodies work to recover from this damage is what causes the soreness associated with DOMS. The body's inflammatory response causes muscles and connective tissue to stiffen and tighten, leading to pain when further exerted.

Experience Delayed Soreness does not mean you had a particularly great workout. It does mean that your muscles are not accustomed to that type of exertion levels, and are working to recuperate. If you perform a new exercise or a new level of intensity, your muscles may be more sore as they learn to adapt.  

Is Soreness Bad or Good?

While soreness isn't directly bad for you, if you're consistently and constantly sore, it may be a sign of a larger issue. It could mean that your program is not consistent enough in working out certain areas of the body, or that your body is not able to adequately recover and adapt after exercise. Both of these can be remedied by examining your diet and exercise programs.

Because of this, feeling sore for days after a workout should not be a goal. Continually feeling sore can also damper your progress. When you're sore, it’s harder to continue working out as your muscles are trying to recover. Your muscles are tight and in pain, and generally harder to move. Minimizing soreness is key to maintaining muscle fitness.


How can I be less sore?

  1. Stretch!

    1. Warming up and priming your body for exercise with stretching may help lessen your chances of getting DOMS. Myofascial release is a great mobility tool, both for warming up and recovery.

  2. Freeze it

    1. Cold is a great way to relieve the symptoms of DOMS. Cold Showers and Ice Baths after tough workouts can help the body reduce inflammation and the symptoms involved with this soreness.

  3. Move your Body

    1. By exercising the whole body regularly, you can work to prevent recurring soreness. New movements and new intensities are most likely to lead to DOMS, so keep the whole body moving consistently to feel great.

  4. Progress Slowly

    1. If you move up in intensity too quickly, more damage can occur which leads to a more drastic recovery process and experiencing DOMS. Go slow, following a reasonable progression plan, and it should help you feel this soreness less often.

  5. Work Through It

    1. While it may initially cause more pain, working out while sore may help speed up the recovery time. Don’t push yourself too much. A lighter workout at lower level and intensity can help keep your body moving.

Overall, soreness isn’t necessarily bad for you, but it isn’t necessarily good either. While DOMS can marker that your body is experiencing something new, it’s not a goal to aspire to. Keep exercising, listen your body, and take care of it between work outs.