Why are Muscles Sore After a Workout?

workoutYou’ve had those days where after a workout you feel like someone snuck into your home overnight and beat you up, haven’t you? It’s a grim fact of life that after a high intensity (or may not even that high intensity) workout your muscles feel tight, stiff and it can make you feel like you’re 105 when you’re trying to get out of bed. Or walk. So, why do muscles get sore after a workout, anyway?


Soreness is the result of working out, or doing some other activity that is greater than what you normally do. Trainers will tell you that your body’s eccentric muscle contractions cause more soreness in the days after the workout, that are either isometric contractions or concentric contractions. Are you lost now? Well, here is all that mumbo-jumbo explained!

Eccentric muscles aren’t like your rich, recluse old aunt that keeps money stuffed in her mattress. Nope, these are the muscles that lengthen when you are, for example, lowering a weight. Isometric muscles do not change length, and these are the muscles used when you’re just doing something like holding a weight. Concentric muscles are the muscles that shorten as you lift a weight.

So, the soreness you are feeling after the day after your workout is also known as delayed onset muscles soreness. Your muscles mass is always breaking down and being built back up. When you exercise you are causing your body to build up your muscles tissue. The soreness you feel is a sign of that chemical process.

Why Eccentric Muscles Cause the Most Pain

Soreness usually starts 24 to 48 hours after a workout, and the discomfort will peak between 48 and 72 hours after. It is thought that the reason eccentric muscles are sore after a workout is because of the high tension on muscles fibers and connective tissue that working out puts on them, and action that is less common with isometric or concentric muscles.

What’s Important to Know

Consistency is the key! Keeping active on a daily basis is important, even if you’re really sore and your muscles feel exhausted. Do not skip the day after workout! If you’re attempting to get back into shape or to increase your fitness, the key is to stay determined and be consistent in your fitness routine. If you stick with it over time then you will be less exhausted and less sore. Over time, you will learn how to deal with soreness and push through it. And if you want some extra support, talk to your chiropractor about strategies to help you work out your muscle soreness. Don’t forget that seeing your chiropractor regularly will help to keep you aligned and may help to prevent injury as you exercise!

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Jonathan Rolande

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.