We’ve all been there when we go to the gym and have a fantastic workout. We’re feeling great, strong, and fit. Then a day or two later, we wake up and our muscles feel stiff, achy, and sore. Why is this? What causes muscle soreness? Let’s explore what muscle soreness is and if it is a good or bad thing.
What Causes Muscle Soreness?
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the stiffness and achy feeling in your muscles several days after a strenuous or unaccustomed workout. When you exercise your muscles, you’re doing small damage to the muscle fibers known as microtrauma. The soreness you feel is the muscle’s adaptation in order to prevent further damage.
Being sore means a couple things. First, it means you have an accumulation of metabolic by-products, one of which is lactic acid. Secondly, during exercise your blood can become more acidic due to an increase in hydrogen ions, which can also cause soreness. This is called acidosis. Finally, the main culprit to muscle soreness is muscle damage. While we need to damage our muscles to build muscle mass and strength, we also need rest to repair damaged muscle. This is why we shouldn’t work out for the sole purpose of making our muscles sore because we might overtrain and develop an injury at some point.
Is it Good or Bad?
Is muscle soreness a sign of injury or does it mean you had a really good workout? Muscle soreness can be both a good and a bad thing for several reasons. First off, we should generally not work out for the sole purpose of getting sore unless we are all aspiring to be body builders. But it is good to be sore occasionally. Be sure to give yourself enough time to recover and consistently strengthen the muscles. If the soreness persists beyond several days, it could be a sign of a tear or some other form of injury.
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Matthew has a B.S. in Sports and Exercise Science from Wisconsin Lutheran College, is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, and Certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). He specializes in Sports Performance, Strength and Conditioning, Injury Prevention, Health and Wellness, & Functional Training. Matthew lives by the philosophy of “Anything worth having is worth fighting for” – Susan Phillips and he believes that if you want something, then go get it, and don’t stop till you do.