Muscle Soreness After Workouts 2016-11-14T11:06:01+00:00

Muscle Soreness After Workouts

By Shain Rossi, Certified Personal Trainer

Everyone gets sore muscles occasionally. Whether you’re a gym rat or new to exercise, you might push through a workout that leaves you achy and sore the next day.

Depending on the severity, muscle soreness can sideline your workouts for several days, or at least affect your exercise enthusiasm or consistency. The good news is there are steps you can take to ease or even prevent sore muscles and keep moving.

What causes muscle soreness?

muscle soreness prevention treatment - palos verdes personal trainingIf muscle soreness occurs a day or so after your workout, you might be experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Researchers think the soreness occurs due to microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. A misconception about delayed onset muscle soreness is that it’s caused by a buildup of lactic acid, which doesn’t appear to be the case. If you develop DOMS, soreness often peaks about 24 to 72 hours after exercise and can last several days.

DOMS can occur with any type of exercise from running to lifting weights. It’s most likely to develop if you increase exercise intensity, duration, or are doing an activity that is new to you.  For example, if you’re a runner and add swimming to your workout routine, you might find your upper body muscles are sore. Anyone can be affected by delayed onset muscle soreness, even elite athletes.

Can you prevent DOMS?

You might not be able to completely prevent muscle soreness, especially if you’re trying something new. But warming up properly is always a good idea to prevent injury. Before intense exercise, the American Council on Exercise recommends a 10- to 15-minute warm-up.  A warm-up period increases blood flow to your muscles and gets them ready for more intense exercise.

Also, respect your limits. That isn’t to say you can’t work hard. Instead, it means starting slowly and increasing the intensity of your workout over time. For example, if you’re lifting weights, gradually work your way up to heavier weights and track your progress, so you can challenge your limits incrementally, not suddenly.

Treating sore muscles

If you develop muscle soreness after a workout, there are several things you can do to decrease your discomfort. Consider the following:

Non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory medications

Taking over the counter medications, such as Ibuprofen, may help decrease inflammation and reduce soreness.


Who doesn’t enjoy a good massage? In addition to its relaxing effect, a massage may increase blood flow to sore muscles and promote healing.


Applying heat may help decrease muscle soreness and stiffness. Consider using a heating pad or soaking in a hot bath a few times a day for 15 minutes at a time.


Taking omega-3 supplements daily may reduce muscle soreness after a workout. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine indicated that omega-3 might decrease inflammation and improve circulation to sore muscles. 

Light exercise

If you’re hurting too much to get through your regular workout, consider a little light exercise. Getting the blood flowing can decrease muscle stiffness.

Are you looking to increase the intensity of your workouts for faster results, but muscle soreness is holding you back? The personal training gurus at Elite Triangle Fitness are here to help you with a program designed to help you achieve your health and fitness goals. Call us for a free consultation today!

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