Why do muscles get sore?

+79 votes
asked Mar 21, 2015 in Health & Wellness by George (790 points)
I have always wondered why do my muscles get sore after working out. I exercise quite regularly, but it always gets sore afterwards. My friend told me that I am just weak and should exercise more. I was thinking that it has something to do with the way I exercise. Does it really have anything to do with my strength? Could muscle sore be caused by bad exercising method?

2 Answers

+22 votes
answered Mar 31, 2015 by Nazareth (1,640 points)
Regardless of your fitness level, muscle sore can affect anyone. The pain is common and usually shouldn’t last long. Everyone can and will have this pain, even elite athletes, as you push harder in your routine. In fact, the aching means that your fitness is improving!

So why do muscles get sore? In medical terms, the sore after any physical exercise is a condition called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It occurs when your body isn’t used to exercising, a change in exercise intensity and routine, or just doing putting strain on your body more than what you are used to, such as lifting heavy boxes for a long time.

Theoretically, whenever you exercise, your muscle receives microscopic tear and the connective tissues, since your body doesn’t necessarily enjoy long repetitive physical activities. This tiny tear causes the soreness. Not just soreness, sensitive and stiffness are the symptoms as well. These discomforts shouldn’t discourage you however, the body will eventually adapt and tolerate the “damage” more as you continue the same regimen, diminishing return in pain per say. The muscles get more and more elastic, which helps to reduce the soreness and stiffness.

When you stop feeling the pain, it’s probably time to change your exercise pattern and increase the intensity. Basically, see it as your body powering up after each exercise, as your body rebuilds itself to make you stronger than before, so literally you are feeling your body benefiting. Be aware that the pain should only occur after the exercise.
+7 votes
answered Mar 22, 2015 by Kellan (690 points)
Although I may not help you out on why do your muscles get sore, but I could share a few tips on alleviating the soreness after working out.

First, there is no definite way to prevent the pain for surfacing. Your body should recover itself through resting; also, taking extra proteins during this period will help to develop muscles. Natural anti-inflammatory food such as cherry juice could help to minimize the pain, or at least take your mind away from the pain temporarily as you enjoy the drink after a nice workout. Rubbing heated ointment on the area of soreness have proven itself to be an effective remedy, it’s something that as far as I can tell, a practice that only the Asians do. It works great for me personally too! Just be wary of the smell, it can be pretty strong.

I’m not sure about western medicine, but, I refuse to take any form of pills or supplements that promise pain reliefs, I don’t condone performance enhancing tablets as well, just stick to healthy food and let your body do the rest naturally. On the professional level, athletes will often bathe themselves in a tub of ice-cold water; however, this only helps to enhance recovery, not the pain.

If you really are afraid of the sore afterwards, start any new exercise slowly and push for more gradually, give your body time to get used to the movements. Unfortunately, warming-up and cooling down exercises do not in any case proved to prevent the pain symptoms. Still do them, however, warmed-up muscles reduce injury and help to start up your exercises. Similarly, stretching has little effect on the pain but might actually make it worse. All in all, just do the exercises correctly, especially when stretching, ask a friend or a fitness instructor if you aren’t sure. Feel free to continue your routine while the pain is still there. The pain might go away during the exercise but comes back later on to haunt you. If the pain bothers you too much, then do something lighter until you can deal with it, return to your usual routine afterwards. So don’t let the pain discourage you! Believe in yourself that you will and can follow your regime. Happy exercising!
commented Apr 1, 2015 by Ioannis (830 points)
Great tips to relieve the soreness, I’ll try them out if my muscles get sore next time. Thanks!
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