Muscle Soreness

June 23, 2023

Our joke of the week this week was: 

“Honestly, I don’t mind leg day at the gym. It’s just the two days after I can’t stand.”

It’s funny and relatable because we all know that feeling of working out a little too hard and having a tough time a couple days after. This week we want to explore what muscle soreness is, what causes it, and how to avoid it.

Muscle soreness, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), refers to the pain and discomfort that might be experienced in muscles after exercise. It is characterized by stiffness, tenderness, reduced range of motion, and temporary muscle weakness. Understanding the causes, duration, and significance of muscle soreness is crucial for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and healthcare professionals.

Muscle soreness typically appears 24 to 48 hours after exercise, peaking around 72 hours, and gradually subsides within 5 to 7 days. The duration and intensity of soreness can vary based on several factors, including the individual's fitness level, exercise intensity, duration, and type of activity.

Scientists are still studying the causes of muscle soreness down to a cellular level, so for now our best understanding comes down to a few different theories:

  • Muscle Fiber Microtrauma: Eccentric exercise especially causes microtears in muscle fibers, leading to inflammation and soreness.

  • Inflammatory Response: Inflammatory cells migrate to the damaged site, releasing chemical mediators (such as cytokines, histamines, and prostaglandins) that signal the repair process. This process contributes to pain and tenderness.

  • Increased Neural Sensitivity: Muscle soreness can heighten neural sensitivity, amplifying the perception of pain and discomfort.

Contrary to its temporary discomfort, muscle soreness is considered a positive and necessary part of the adaptive process of muscle growth and increased fitness:

  • Muscle Hypertrophy: Intense exercise and the resulting muscle soreness stimulate muscle protein synthesis and promote hypertrophy, leading to increased muscle strength and size.'

  • Neural Adaptations: Eccentric exercise enhances neural adaptations, improving coordination, motor unit recruitment, and overall neuromuscular efficiency.

  • Improved Performance: Muscle soreness indicates that the muscles have been challenged beyond their accustomed capacity, and with adequate recovery, performance improvements can be achieved.

  • Long-Term Adaptations: Repeated exposure to exercise-induced muscle soreness elicits long-term adaptations, making the muscles more resistant to future damage and reducing soreness over time. (we’re growing your capacity)

Many people have ideas on the best ways to manage muscle soreness. Here’s a breakdown of some popular and effective theories for managing soreness:

  • Rest and Recovery: Sufficient rest between intense exercise sessions allows for muscle repair and adaptation.

  • Gradual Progression: Gradually increasing exercise intensity and volume can help minimize excessive muscle soreness.

  • Warm-up and Cool-down: Proper warm-up and cool-down routines can reduce muscle soreness by increasing blood flow and reducing muscle stiffness.

  • Active Recovery: Engaging in low-intensity exercises like light cardio or stretching can alleviate muscle soreness by promoting blood flow and reducing inflammation.

As always, please consult a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns. We would love to be that resource for you. If you are interested in building your capacity to help avoid soreness, please connect with us to set up a consultation with our Personal Trainer.


Sufficient rest between intense exercise sessions allows for muscle repair and adaptation.

Peak Performance Care

in Sonora CA

13949 Mono Way

PO Box 4143

Sonora, CA 95370


(209) 532 1288

Fax: (209) 230 9529

Monday/Wednesday: 8am-5:30pm

Tuesday/Thursday: 6am-5pm

Friday: 6am-2pm

Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.