top of page

Muscle Soreness: What It Is, When It's Good (and Bad), And How To Manage

What is muscle soreness and why do we get it?

Muscle soreness after exercise, also known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), is a normal response to physical activity, especially if you're engaging in new or intense activities. It is caused by microscopic damage to the muscle fibers, which triggers inflammation and the release of waste products into the surrounding tissue. This may feel uncomfortable but it's also a sign that your muscles are adapting and growing stronger in response to the stress of exercise.


Should I be sore after exercise?

Soreness after exercise is common and can indicate that your muscles are adapting to new stress. It is a normal and expected part of exercise but it’s important to note that muscle soreness is not a direct indicator of the effectiveness of a workout. In fact, some individuals may not experience soreness even after an intense workout, while others may feel it after lighter activities.


If I’m not sore, does it mean I didn’t get a good workout?

Soreness after exercise is a normal response to physical activity, especially if you're engaging in new or intense activities. However, it's not necessary to experience DOMS after every exercise session.


In fact, some individuals may not experience DOMS even after an intense workout, while others may feel it after lighter activities. The presence or absence of DOMS does not necessarily indicate the effectiveness of a workout. Over time, as your muscles adapt to the stress of exercise, the frequency and intensity of DOMS may decrease.


What factors play a role in muscle soreness related to exercise?

Muscle soreness is individual depending on your body, but factors that may play a role are:

  1. Intensity and duration of the exercise: High-intensity and long-duration exercise can increase the risk of muscle soreness, especially if you are new to the activity or if it is an unfamiliar movement pattern.

  2. Type of exercise: Resistance training, such as weightlifting or bodyweight exercises, can cause more muscle soreness than endurance activities like running or cycling.

  3. Age: As we age, the ability to recover from muscle soreness decreases, which can prolong discomfort.

  4. Fitness level: Individuals who are less fit are more likely to experience muscle soreness after exercise compared to those who are more fit.

  5. Nutrition: A diet that is deficient in essential nutrients, such as protein and vitamins, can slow down the recovery process and increase the risk of muscle soreness.

  6. Hydration: Dehydration can increase the risk of muscle soreness and slow down the recovery process.

  7. Sleep: Poor sleep can increase muscle soreness and impair recovery.


How can I distinguish between “good” soreness and bad soreness?

Generally, it's good to listen to your body and adjust your exercise routine accordingly.

“Good” muscle soreness after exercise, is a normal response to physical activity, especially if you're engaging in new or intense activities. It is usually mild to moderate and subsides within a few days. You can distinguish good muscle soreness from bad muscle soreness based on the following factors:

  1. Timing: Good muscle soreness typically appears 24-48 hours after exercise and subsides within a few days.

  2. Intensity: Good muscle soreness is usually mild to moderate and does not limit your ability to move or perform normal activities.

  3. Location: Good muscle soreness is usually specific to the muscles that were worked during exercise.


Soreness is a concern if it is severe of prolonged and hinders you from doing activities you can normally complete. Any of these signs may indicate overtraining or injury ad may have the following characteristics: 

  1. Timing: Bad muscle soreness may appear immediately after exercise or take longer to develop.

  2. Intensity: Bad muscle soreness is often severe and may limit your ability to move or perform normal activities.

  3. Location: Bad muscle soreness may be widespread and not limited to the muscles that were worked during exercise.


Is it better to rest or move when you experience muscle soreness?


Movement is medicine!


It’s a good idea to strike a balance between movement and rest. Here's why: 

  1. Gentle movement: Light exercise, such as gentle stretching or a low-impact activity like walking, can help increase blood flow to the affected muscles, which can aid in recovery and reduce stiffness.

  2. Rest: Complete rest might not be the best option, as it can lead to decreased blood flow and stiff muscles. However, it's important to avoid activities that cause excessive pain or discomfort.


But remember, the best approach is to listen to your body or as your trainer for tips.


Should I use heat or ice if my muscles are sore?

Both heat and ice have their place in managing muscle soreness related to exercise, but the choice between them depends on the timing and severity of the soreness:

1.      Ice: If you have acute muscle soreness accompanied by swelling, ice is often the recommended option. Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation, numb pain, and prevent further damage.

2.      Heat: If you have chronic muscle soreness, meaning the pain has persisted for several days, heat may is the better option. Heat can help improve blood flow, increase flexibility, and reduce muscle stiffness.

Notes about use of heat: It's important to note that heat should not be used immediately after exercise as it can increase inflammation. It's also crucial to avoid using heat if the affected area is swollen or red, as this could indicate an injury.


Will stretching after exercise help prevent muscle soreness?

Stretching may help reduce the severity of muscle soreness after exercise, but it may not prevent it entirely. Stretching can improve flexibility and range of motion, which can help reduce the risk of injury and improve recovery time.

Static stretching, which involves holding a stretched position for a set period of time, is the best method of stretching after exercise. 


Dynamic stretching, which involves movement and active engagement of the muscle, can also be beneficial for preparing the muscles prior to exercise (more on this next week!).


2 views0 comments

コメント


bottom of page