runner grabbing aching calf

Why Do Your Muscles Get Sore After You Exercise?

At the gym, you’ll often hear trainers say that without pain, there is no gain. In part this is true, but have you ever wondered why you feel so sore after working out? There is a general amount of soreness or muscle fatigue that is to be expected following any good workout, but there is also a percentage of people who suffer excessively. Ultimate Health Clinic explains about DOMS in further detail below.

Why Do Muscles Get Extra Sore After Physical Activity?

One reason some people suffer from extreme soreness is due to DOMS. This stands for delayed onset muscle soreness. Those who have it may have to deal with a limited range of muscle strength and a limited range of motion for up to two days. This usually occurs when a new physical activity is introduced or when you increase the intensity of your current routine. Your body is simply adapting to a new load of work.

What Causes It?

Some believe DOMS is triggered by a build-up of lactic acid. In actuality, lactic acid is only present in your muscles for a maximum of two hours following any physical activity. Some courses, such as those that focus on resistance training, trigger muscle fibre micro-tears, which can lead to swelling, inflammation, and increase blood flow. All of these may trigger the pain receptors that are in your muscle tissue, making it harder to move without discomfort. Thankfully, muscle damage from working out is only temporary. When your muscles rebuild themselves, they will be able to work longer and carry heavier loads as time goes by.

Managing Muscle Soreness

Delayed onset muscle soreness is a normal part of your body process that signals that it is getting stronger. However, there are several ways to help manage the discomfort you feel from it.

Although exercise causes delayed onset muscle soreness, it is also the best way to reduce it. Lighter activity such as yoga or light cardio the day after an intense workout can relieve the pain. Once your body is pain-free, you can go for another high impact workout.

When working on intensive routines or incorporating a new exercise, try to stick to only one per week to give your body time to adjust. Warming up ahead of resistance training will also help reduce the DOMS. Don’t get stuck doing the same physical activities day in and day out, mix it up to give your body time to heal. Drinking water and maintaining a healthy diet is also important. For extra relief, you can also soak in a bath of Epsom salt to help improve circulation and relax your muscles.


While soreness is normal following a workout, there are times when you may need medical attention. If your pain keeps you from completing any daily tasks, it may not be DOMS. If you are in pain and the soreness has not reduced after three days, or if the pain is so extreme your legs give out, seek medical attention. At any time that you notice swelling, discoloration, cramping, or redness, get help. Sharp pain and soreness are very different. A sharp pain indicates a sprain or a break, so you may need to visit a doctor.

How We Can Help

If you are suffering from DOMS, or if you are concerned your pain may be something worse, we can help. Ultimate Health Clinic has a team of qualified chiropractors that can assess your condition and suggest proper treatment. To schedule an East Gwillimbury chiropractic appointment, give us a call at (905) 251-0162 today.

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