Mintfit Blog

Why Your Muscles are Sore After a Workout and How to Prevent It


Here you’ve jumped back into your exercise routine. You’ve done a gym session or gone for a run, and you’re feeling absolutely great.

That is until you wake up bright and early the following morning.

 Your arms ache, your abs ache, your legs are killing you… You feel like you’re never going to be able to take the stairs again, let alone dominate your next workout.  

 Why do your Muscles Hurt after a Workout?

Image: Running Competitor

Muscle aches pains and soreness, is a side effect of the stress put on muscles when you exercise. The condition, “delayed onset muscle soreness”, better known as “DOMS” and is caused by tiny injuries in the muscle fibre and connective tissue.

What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS?

DOMS usually begins within 6-8 hours after a new activity or a change in activity, and can last up to 24-48 hours after the exercise.

DOMS results from microscopic tears within muscle tissues, which is what you're creating when you workout. The muscle pain is due to inflammation within the muscle, which is one of the main triggers for this muscle soreness.

The pain response is your body's way of signaling to you that repair work is going on and that you'd best leave it be for a few days.

Getting sore muscles a day or two after an intensive workout or vigorous exercise is normal, especially if you are increasing your exercise intensity or starting on a new sport or exercise.

Mint’s Head Fitness Coach says:

“If you haven’t exercised for a while, or if you are starting a new exercise program, you are likely to experience sore muscles after the workout.

Your body is simply saying your muscles need time to recover.The good news is that once your body gets accustomed to the new sport or exercise, you will experience little or no muscle soreness.”

Is DOMS Good for Me? No-Pain No-Gain Right?

We often wear our DOMS as a badge of honor and believe that if we’re not sore, we’re not doing enough during our workouts. But that’s just not true.

Lack of muscle pain and soreness doesn’t equal a bad workout.

Studies show that soreness itself (using a scale from 0 to 10 to assess the level of soreness) is a poor indicator of muscle adaptation and growth.

There are many factors that influence how DOMS presents itself in individuals, and there is a real variability, even between people with similar genetics and even among highly-trained lifters and athletes.

So, while comparing notes (and commiserating) with your training buddies is all part of the process, soreness and DOMS isn’t the best gauge of how effective your workout was or who’s in better shape.

If you experience muscle soreness up to 3 days after working out, it means you’re overdoing it.

How Can I Prevent Muscle Aches and Soreness?

There are a number of simple techniques which can really make a difference to preventing and alleviating muscle aches and soreness.

6 Ways to Reduce Post-Workout Soreness

  1. Warm Up Sufficiently Before Exercise. If you expect to stay safe and keep yourself from hurting, you have to warm up before your workout. If nothing else, jump on a bike or treadmill for 10 minutes before you get started.

If you want something a little better, CLICK HERE to see a great warm up routine put together by our head coach.

  1. Foam Roll at Home. Foam-rollers are inexpensive and can be purchased on Amazon. We’d strongly recommend getting one and use it, morning and evening to relieve post-workout aches and pains.

  • Stretch. Slow, gentle stretching of the area affected by DOMS will relieve that tight feeling and diffuse the pain.

  1. Do Cardio. A cardio workout increases blood flow and acts as a filter system. It brings nutrients like oxygen, protein, and iron to the muscles that you've been training and helps them recover faster.

As the blood leaves the muscles, it takes some of the metabolic bi-products with it (like carbon dioxide and lactic acid) that may be causing DOMS.

  • Drink Water. Staying hydrated means it is easier for your body to flush out toxins and repair and replenish. Water is your friend.  

  • Start Slow. This is the most critical, but the hardest thing to do. When you start a workout routine, you want to push yourself! You are motivated and want to see results NOW.

The problem is that your body is not ready and you can actually WAY over-do it  early on in the process because your brain doesn’t know your limits yet.

This is especially true if you used to workout a lot and have an expectation for what you “should” be able to do.

So, if you really want to avoid hurting after your workouts, just start slow. Do a lot of bodyweight exercises and think of your first week as a warm up.

If you can follow these 6 steps, I can guarantee you will feel better after you workouts and get better results because of it.  

Not sure how to get started or how hard to push?

We are here to help.

We know just how hard it can be to jump back into your routine (or start a routine for the first time), so we want to help give you the support you need to do it right.

To help get you started, we invite you to come try us out during our Fit for Fall Special! This $350 value includes two private personal training sessions plus two group training sessions, all for just $49.

To learn more, fill out the form on the top right hand side of the page or call us at (408) 370-1739 and ask about our Fit for Fall Special.

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