How Long Should I Be Sore After a Workout?

It’s normal to feel some soreness after a moderate to intense workout.
How long you’ll feel sore depends on a few things, like how active you are normally, how strenuous your workout was, and which muscles you used.

Causes of Soreness

Soreness after physical activity is a normal part of the body’s response to exercising and can last up to several days. There are a number of causes of soreness after a workout, from lactic acid buildup to dehydration. Understanding the causes of soreness can help you determine how long you should expect to be sore after a workout. Let’s take a look at some of these causes.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, commonly referred to as DOMS, is an uncomfortable soreness experienced after a strenuous workout. The soreness often peaks 24-48 hours after the workout and can last anywhere from 2-7 days. This type of muscle soreness results from the tearing of contracting muscle fibers that occurs during resistance or strength training. The feeling is expected and some people may experience it more than others depending on individual fitness level, but it does not mean that your workout was ineffective.

DOMS commonly affects muscles not used to certain activities, for example when restarting an exercise routine after extended time off, when pushing yourself further than normal or when engaging in activities with greater range of motion such as plyometrics and stretching. When working out with progressive overload, you should aim to slightly increase the weight you’re lifting during each session in order to maximize your gains while avoiding excessive pain and injury risk. Whilst DOMS can affect anyone who exercises regularly or pushes themselves beyond their usual limits, it is still important to be aware that intense pain is a signal that your muscles are stressed beyond their stage of adaptation and should be adequately rested before resuming training.

Eccentric Muscle Contractions

One of the culprits of post-workout soreness is eccentric muscle contractions. An eccentric muscle contraction occurs when the muscle is lengthening against a load, commonly known as “negative” or “eccentric” training. Examples include lowering a weight during a bicep curl or going into “the hole” during a squat.

Eccentric contractions produce tiny tears in the muscle as they lengthen and this microtrauma triggers an inflammatory response that builds cells to heal and create greater strength in the tendon and ligaments over time. However, this repair process can leave you feeling sore days after your workout has concluded due to the increased metabolic waste known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This usually subsides within 48 hours but can last up to five days depending on how intense your workout was and how well-conditioned your muscles are prior to exercise.

If you’re trying to reduce post-workout soreness, you should focus on building up your muscles through consistent progressive overload exercises over time; this will ensure that your muscles are conditioned for more intense workouts without becoming too overloaded too quickly. Additionally, aim for adequate hydration before and after workouts, dynamic stretching prior to starting exercise and active recovery such as an easy walk post-workout so that you can help flush away waste metabolites from the muscles more quickly.

Prolonged Exercise

Prolonged exercise can cause muscle soreness, the medical term for which is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS typically occurs between 24 and 48 hours after exercise, reaching its peak intensity within 48–72 hours. It usually lasts three to four days but may last up to a week or more in some cases. Common activities that can cause DOMS include endurance or resistance training, strength training, interval or high-intensity training, and plyometric exercises such as jumping jacks and burpees.

Common symptoms of DOMS include pain when stretching muscles that were used during the activity and fatigue. Other symptoms of DOMS can include tenderness on the area around the exercised muscles and mild swelling due to increased blood flow during recovery. DOMS can also cause stiffness in the area around where the muscles were worked and a decreased range of motion in those areas. Depending on how intense your exercise was, you may feel soar for days afterwards as well as for several days after subsequent workouts. To combat this, it’s recommended to perform warm-up exercises prior to working out and cool-down stretches afterwards to help reduce discomfort associated with soreness caused by physical activity. Additionally incorporating massage therapy into your routine can help promote healing by reducing inflammation in affected areas, promoting improved circulation throughout your body, relaxation and a greater range flexibility within injured muscle tissue.

Duration of Soreness

After an intense workout it is normal to experience muscle soreness, also known as ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ (DOMS). The severity of the soreness can vary depending on the type of workout and level of intensity. Some people can be sore for up to a few days after a workout, while others may have no soreness at all. In this article, we will discuss the duration of soreness and what you can do to manage it.

Factors Affecting Duration

Understanding the factors that affect the duration of soreness after a workout is essential for maximizing exercise recovery. This type of post-workout soreness is referred to by clinicians as ‘Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness’, or DOMS. Generally, DOMS sets in about 24 hours after exercising and can last for several days depending on your activity level and other factors.

Some of the factors that can influence how long you’re sore following a workout include:
-The intensity and duration of your exercise session. The stronger or longer your workout, the more likely it is that you’ll experience more intense post-workout soreness.
-The type of exercise you do. High intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts increase levels of blood lactic acid which has been shown to exacerbate soreness. In contrast, low intensity steady state training (LISS) can help reduce post-workout muscle aches.
-Your past fitness experience level – beginners typically feel greater amounts of DOMS than experienced athletes due to their muscles having less resilience to sustained physical stress such as weight lifting or running long distances.
-Your body’s response speed after a workout – Different people have different rates at which their bodies return from an extreme physical activity and this will ultimately affect the time one experiences soreness post exercising.
-Your nutrition habits pre/post workout – Consuming quality foods with adequate protein and carbohydrates both pre and post workouts can help aid recovery time significantly compared not taking in any nutrition pre/post workout

Typical Duration of Soreness

It is not uncommon to experience muscle soreness after a workout, but the duration of this soreness will depend on the type and intensity of the workout. An intense full-body workout may result in more severe soreness that can last up to 2-3 days. If your routine includes strength training with heavier weights, then you may experience soreness for up to four days after your workout. You may also experience some discomfort with untrained or unused muscle groups during activities such as running and even walking long distances.

The intensity and duration of post-workout muscle soreness (known as delayed onset muscle soreness – DOMS) is usually caused by microdamage to the muscles from exercise that is unfamiliar or from more intense physical activity than usual. It can also be caused by an increase in reps or sets of exercises. DOMS usually peaks 24-48 hours after exercise and should generally dissipate within 72 hours for most people but can last up to 7 days depending on individual factors such as fitness level, age, activity levels, diet and overall health. To help reduce DOMS, it is recommended that individuals regularly engage in physical activity and allow sufficient recovery time between workouts; light stretching exercises can also help alleviate symptoms associated with DOMS following exercise bouts.


After a workout it is normal to feel a bit sore. However, if you find that you are sore for days or even weeks afterwards, it is important to seek medical help. There are a variety of treatments available for soreness, depending on the severity of your condition. Let’s take a look at some of the treatments and how long they can take to become effective.


Rest is an important element of injury prevention and effective recovery from strenuous training. During workouts, your body needs rest for optimal performance. In addition, recovering after strenuous physical activity or training allows your body’s tissues to heal properly and return to a normal, healthy state. Following exercise, there are many treatments you can do at home or with the help of a medical professional that will help you recover faster, decrease pain, and reduce inflammation.

Resting is one of the most important aspects in achieving proper recovery. Your body is working hard during your workout and needs rest afterwards to recover and become stronger. Depending on the intensity and type of exercise you’re doing, a period of 24-48 hours of rest may be beneficial in terms of muscle soreness relief, regeneration of tissues and enhanced strength gains down the line. Different forms may include:

-Aerobic Rest: A period away from intense activities including walking or light sports like basketball; should not exceed 60 minutes per day
-Active Recovery: Low intensity exercising that improves circulation without overworking affected areas; should not exceed 20 minutes at a time
-Passive Recovery: Taking time off from training; this could be anything from staying in bed for a few days or spending some time relaxing on the couch
-Sleep Pattern Optimization: Aiding with recovery through quality sleep; should maintain 6-8 hours per night

The treatments above can have varying degrees on how long you are sore after a workout but ultimately it comes down to listening to your body’s signals and responding accordingly. Be mindful not to overwork yourself as this can lead to further complications such as fatigue or even injury if continued for too long. Though everyone can benefit from these methods mentioned above when it comes to treating post-workout discomfort, actively consulting with a sports medicine professional would ensure that any necessary treatments are tailored directly to your own fitness goals and recovery timeline.

Ice and Heat

Ice and heat are two of the most common treatments you can use to manage soreness after an intense workout. Ice should be used to reduce inflammation and numb the pain in a localized area. Heat helps to relax tense, sore muscles, as well as improve circulation in the area.

When using ice, it’s best to apply it for 15-20 minutes every 1-2 hours when you’re first starting out, or as needed if your muscle soreness persists. It is important not to leave ice on too long because it can cause tissue damage and further aggravate already inflamed muscles. Make sure you wrap the ice or the bag containing the ice cubes in a thin cloth before applying it directly onto skin to prevent any possible burns from happening.

Heat application can be done with a heating pad or hot water bottle for up to 20 minutes at a time; however, never use hot water directly on an injured area as this can increase swelling and damage tissue even further. Heating pads should be placed on medium heat and moved around so that you do not burn yourself or scorch your clothing. Be wary of applying too much heat — if it gets too hot then switch back to using ice until swelling has subsided before switching back to using heat again once inflammation has been reduced significantly.


Massage is a great way to help reduce soreness and increase recovery after a workout. It can help stimulate circulation and promote muscle relaxation, allowing you to workout longer and more effectively. When used as part of a regular post-workout regimen, massage can improve overall performance and reduce the likelihood of injury.

When getting a massage for post-workout recovery, it’s best to focus on longer strokes with deeper pressure points. Athletes should make sure to allow for adequate time between therapy sessions in order to experience maximum benefits. Generally speaking, it is recommended that athletes get a massage every other day or at least twice per week in order to effectively reduce soreness over time.


Stretching is an important component of any workout program, as it helps keep muscles flexible, strong and healthy. A good rule of thumb for stretching after exercise is to hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds, repeating each 5-10 times. Static stretches are recommended instead of ballistic stretches such as bouncing or jerking movements. It’s also important to maintain slow body movements while breathing deeply and regularly throughout the stretch.

Examples of static stretches include calf stretches, hamstring stretches, chest and shoulder stretches and quadricep stretches. Take caution when stretching tight muscles, such as those in the lower back or hamstrings, to avoid injury. Try not to push beyond what is comfortable; mild discomfort should be present during stretching but the goal is not to cause pain or injury. After a few rounds of stretching for each body part stretched, you should feel relief from any soreness caused by exercise routines.


Working out is a great way to get in shape and stay healthy. However, if you don’t take the necessary precautions to ensure that your body recovers properly, you may find yourself feeling sore for days after a workout. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this muscle soreness if you know what to do. In this post, we’ll discuss the preventative measures you can take to avoid enduring lengthy soreness after your workouts.

Warm-up and Cool-down

Properly warming up and cooling down are essential for any workout. Warming up prepares your muscles for the effort ahead, and cooling down allows them to gradually return to a resting state. Before exercising, it’s important to gently stretch your muscles; doing so increases your flexibility and range of motion. During a cool-down period, focus on more dynamic stretches that use movement rather than holding them in position.

When you warm up, try incorporating dynamic stretching exercises such as arm circles and ankle skips into your stretch routine. In addition to promoting muscle flexibility, these types of exercises get the blood circulating through your muscles and lubricate your joints before more intense activity.

A proper cool-down should involve increasing levels of aerobic activity interspersed with gentle stretches until your heart rate slows and you reach a state of relaxation. This can be done by walking at a slower pace or doing some light jogging for five minutes or so followed by simple dynamic stretches such as bending on one leg and rotating the body hip joint side-to-side or gently swaying forward onto the bent leg and extending backward with that same leg for 10–15 seconds at a time on each side.

Proper Form

Improper form can leave your muscles feeling sore for longer than necessary. To avoid this, ensure you’re using the correct posture and technique for each exercise. This may require practicing with a lighter weight or fewer reps until you’ve perfected your form and can work out with a full range of motion.

Also, it is essential to understand how to control your breathing during exertion. With any weight lifting move, inhale while preparing for the lift and exhale slowly while performing the lift. Slow and steady contractions are also important; don’t attempt to use a full range of motion too quickly – instead, take time to move through each exercise slowly and with control.

Lastly, keep in mind that proper hydration is key for maintaining muscle health before, during and after workouts! Muscles need water in order to contract properly – if they become dehydrated, they become unable to function properly and could lead to cramping or unnecessary pain. Make sure that you drink plenty of water before and throughout your workout session in order to ensure you maintain proper muscle health!

Gradual Progression

For those looking to stay healthy and get fit, it can be tempting to jump into a workout routine full force right away. However, proceeding too quickly and intensely can lead to soreness or even injury. To maximize the benefits of your workouts while avoiding oversoreness or pain, it is important to follow a gradual progression plan.

When starting a new exercise program, begin slowly and choose low-impact activities that you can manage easily. Make sure you have the proper form for each exercise, as using bad posture will not only limit your progress but also put unnecessary strain on your body. Additionally, form will help determine how much weight you should use; don’t push yourself too hard in order to achieve quick results—it’s more important to focus on technique first and adjust the intensity as needed over time.

Finally, it’s essential that you give your muscles time to recover in between workouts. This means ensuring that you are getting ample rest of between seven and nine hours per night and engaging in low-impact activities during rest days such as stretching and meditation. Proper rest gives your body time to repair tissues, reduce inflammation, regulate hormones, rebuild energy stores, and improve immunity — all vital facets of a successful exercise program that come with no risk of overexertion-related soreness. Following a sensible progression plan from start to finish not only helps ensure that you’re taking proper care of yourself during your training regimen but also allows for measurable progress without fear of strain or injury caused by pushing yourself too far!

Adequate Hydration

When you exercise, it is important to stay adequately hydrated. Not only does your body need water and electrolytes to maintain its cooling system during physical activity, it also serves as fuel for muscles to contract and store and use while working out. Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after a workout is essential in order to avoid the risk of dehydration. Additionally, good hydration can help avoid stiffness, soreness, and fatigue that often follows exercise. Aim to drink 1-3 cups of water prior to exercising, another cup or two during a session (especially if it lasts more than an hour), and several cups more afterwards. When exercising in hot or humid climates or at higher intensities additional fluids may be needed.

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