When Does Workout Soreness Go Away?

When you start a new workout routine, you may be worried about the pain and soreness that comes with it. Here’s when you can expect that soreness to go away.

What is Workout Soreness?

Workout soreness is an all-too-common and sometimes unwelcome occurrence for many athletes and exercisers. It can range from slight aches to extreme discomfort, and knowing when it’s going to go away can be a challenge. So what is workout soreness, what causes it, and when will it go away? Let’s dive into the details.


Workout soreness, also known as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), is a common result of exercise that many athletes and fitness enthusiasts experience. This type of soreness is caused when a muscle group or groups are put through an activity that exceeds its usual range of motion, duration or intensity. It’s usually felt around 24 to 48 hours after the workout and can linger for up to 72 hours. Workout soreness usually isn’t harmful and doesn’t last long — typically no more than a few days. If it persists longer than that, it should be evaluated by a doctor or sports medicine professional to rule out an injury or medical condition. There are several types of workouts which can cause this type of soreness, including weightlifting, Crossfit, running and boot camp-style exercises. To reduce discomfort, use techniques such as foam rolling, stretching and dynamic warm ups prior to exercise sessions in order to help prepare the muscles for the volume of work ahead of them.


Workout soreness is the tenderness of muscles that occurs during or shortly after exercise. It typically hits about 24 to 48 hours after exercising, but can occur anywhere from a few minutes to several days later. Commonly referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), this condition most often affects novice exercisers, as well as those increasing their intensity level or introducing new exercises.

The cause of DOMS is not fully understood, but exercise-induced micro-tearing may play a role in its development. When microscopic tears occur within muscle fibers, an inflammatory response initiates the healing process by releasing chemicals such as histamines, kinins and prostaglandins. This causes inflammation and tenderness in the affected area that can last up to 72 hours post exercise; however, the exact mechanism causing these muscle tears is still unknown. In addition to micro-tears, other possible causes of DOMS include stretching tissue beyond its capacity and consuming natural toxins found in some plant-based foods and supplements.

How Long Does Workout Soreness Last?

Workout soreness is a normal physical response to exercise and is often referred to as muscle fatigue. After a hard workout, muscles can become sore and it can take several days for the soreness to subside. Understanding how long workout soreness lasts and how to reduce it can be useful for anyone that wants to stay active. Let’s explore this further.

Factors that Affect Duration

The duration of workout soreness can vary from person to person depending on a variety of factors, such as the intensity and type of exercise, the amount of rest taken in between workouts, overall fitness level, age and even nutrition.

Workout soreness is caused by microscopic tears in the muscles and usually starts 18-24 hours after exercise. The pain and stiffness may reach its peak 48 to 72 hours after exercising, depending on the intensity and frequency of your workouts. It may last anywhere from several days to several weeks. The least severe cases may only involve pain or discomfort when you stretch or move certain ways.

Older adults tend to experience more prolonged soreness than younger people because they tend to have longer recovery time between workouts. Nutrition can also play a vital role in how quickly your body recovers; balanced nutrition ensures your muscles have all the nutrients needed for good muscle health. Adequate rest gives your body time to replenish energy stores while allowing repair of muscles that become swollen or damaged during exercise. Finally, an individual’s fitness level will influence how long his/her soreness lasts — people who are generally fit are likely to experience shorter bouts of muscle soreness following their workouts than those who are just beginning a fitness program or who rarely exercise at all.

Timelines for Different Types of Workouts

Although all workouts can lead to some degree of soreness, the amount and duration of muscle soreness depends on the type and intensity of a workout. For example, activities that involve eccentric muscle contractions—a move where a greater force is experienced while lengthening a muscle — may be more likely to induce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), because these types of movements are often unfamiliar to our muscles.

The timeline for soreness onset and disappearance itself, often reflective of the type of exercise you do. Generally, here is how long it usually takes for different workout soreness to go away:

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Soreness from HIIT usually sets in 12-24 hours post-workout and should pass within 1-3 days.

Strength Training: As with HIIT, DOMS induced by strength training will typically show up about 12-24 hours post-workout and should dissipate within 3-5 days.

Running: DOMS induced by running is typically delayed anywhere from 24 hours to 72 hours post run, with the peak around 48 hours after a hard effort and dissipating within 4 days.

Treating Workout Soreness

Exercise-induced muscle soreness, also known as post-exercise muscle soreness, is a normal and expected response to physical activity. It usually begins a few hours after a workout and can last for several days. While some soreness is normal and even healthy, persistent and severe pain can indicate an injury that needs to be addressed. This section will discuss different methods for treating workout soreness.

Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery are essential components of any exercise regimen. After any physical activity, the body needs time to heal and replenish itself. This is especially important for those who experience exercise-induced muscle soreness. The amount of rest needed depends on the intensity and duration of the workout, as well as your individual recovery capability.

Getting enough rest between workouts helps reduce or prevent post-exercise soreness. That said, working out subsequent days in a row will often lead to some degree of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This usually means that muscles need a few days — sometimes up to 72 hours — to fully recover before exercising again if more extreme DOMS is experienced. If you feel discomfort when exercising, it’s best to stop immediately, as this can indicate an injury or form issue that requires professional treatment or rehabilitation.

In addition to adequate rest between workouts, eating healthy foods with adequate carbohydrates, proteins and medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may help reduce post-workout pain in some people. Stretching before and after exercise, massage therapy and warm baths may also help relieve symptoms of muscle fatigue caused by DOMS so you can start feeling better faster!


Self-massage is a great way to relieve muscle soreness after a workout. This technique is best suited for smaller body parts that you can easily reach with your hands such as the arms, legs and back. One technique you can use is to slowly massage a sore muscle group with your hand in a circular motion until the soreness has dissipated. You should be careful not to apply too much pressure as this could cause injury. You can also use ice or heat therapy to reduce inflammation and soothe the affected area around the muscle. It’s important to keep in mind that you should never experience severe pain while doing this — if you do, stop immediately and seek medical advice.

Stretching and Foam Rolling

Stretching and foam rolling can both be used to help with workout soreness. When stretching, you should focus on areas that are particularly tight or feel sore. Static stretches are held for an extended period of time, typically about 30 seconds; this allows for a muscular release to occur in the target area by increasing circulation, allowing toxins and metabolic waste products in the muscle to dissipate more quickly. Foam rolling is another great way to increase circulation, flexibility, and reduce soreness; it releases constricted muscles using a rolling motion over multiple points of the muscle. It increases blood flow by improving circulation while also reducing tension and stress on the body. Both of these methods can be extremely helpful in helping loosen tight muscles after a bout of exercise, resulting in improved mobility, decreased pain and inflammation and quicker recovery times in between workouts.

Heat and Ice Therapy

Heat and Ice Therapy are two safe, low-cost treatment options for those who experience workout soreness. Heat increases blood circulation and helps loosen tight muscles while providing relief from pain and stiffness. Warm baths, steam rooms, hot packs, or saunas are all beneficial forms of heat therapy. However, it is important to remember that too much heat can further damage the muscles, exacerbating any existing soreness or injury.

In contrast to heat therapy, ice therapy relieves pain by calming the inflamed muscle fibers and reducing swelling in the area of the soreness. Ice packs should be applied for no more than 20 minutes at a time (30 minutes on some areas). Ice can also be massaged into tight muscles to help reduce tension and alleviate any associated aches and pains. After a period of rest following either treatment method is important in order for one to feel relief from workout soreness.

Preventing Workout Soreness

Workout soreness is an incredibly common problem for athletes and gym goers alike. When your muscles are pushed to their limits, they become sore and tender. While soreness is normal after a workout, there are ways to reduce the soreness so that you can stay active and healthy. In this section, we will discuss how to prevent workout soreness and when it should go away.

Proper Warm-up

Proper warm-up is a key element to preventing workout soreness. It prepares your body for activity and helps increase heart rate and circulation. Warming up gradually can help reduce the impact of exercise on the body, helping you go further and faster with less wear and tear.

The standard rule of thumb is to warm up for 10 minutes at a moderate effort—approximately half of your maximum effort. You can begin with some basic stretching exercises that target muscles you will be using during your workout, along with dynamic movement drills such as light jogging or jogging in place. This should increase both your heart rate and your internal body temperature, signaling your muscles to prepare for more intense activity ahead. A proper warm-up should reduce muscle fatigue during the exercise session and reduce post-exercise aches and pains when done properly.

Proper Form

While some soreness is inevitable after exercise, using proper form can help to reduce the amount of soreness you experience. Maintaining proper form requires concentrating on specific movements and techniques and taking regular breaks in order to give your muscles the recovery time they need.

When you’re targeting a particular muscle group, make sure that you are doing the exercise with perfect form by keeping your back straight, maintaining a natural range of motion, and using lighter weights. Doing so will not only maximize results, but it will also help to prevent any muscle strains or ligament sprains caused by incorrect technique during high-intensity workouts.

Regular stretching before and after workout sessions is also advised for reducing muscle soreness. Stretching helps to strengthen agility, flexibility, and range of motion as well as increase blood circulation throughout the body — all key elements for preventing discomfort from buildup of lactic acid in muscles that occurs after extreme exertion. Cutting stretches short can result in injury or further worsening of existing muscle strain so be sure to take your time with each stretch and use controlled breathing throughout each exercise session.


Hydration is essential to maintaining the proper function of your muscles, joints and tendons. During physical activity, it is important to replace the electrolytes lost through sweating by drinking sports drinks or natural juice-based electrolyte solutions. It is valuable also to maintain proper hydration before, during and after exercise or when you are experiencing any type of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Increasing your water intake helps to rid your body of lactic acid and other metabolic byproducts that accumulate when you exercise. Making sure you get enough fluids can help keep DOMS under control. Proper hydration will also help replenish minerals and nutrients in the body needed for proper muscular recovery after exercise.

When to See a Doctor

Exercise soreness can occur from any activity that causes minor damage to the muscles due to over-exertion. Normally, this soreness is not a cause for concern and will go away in a few days. However, there are times when it is necessary to seek medical attention. In this section, we will discuss when to see a doctor regarding your soreness.

Warning Signs

It’s normal to experience minor aches and pains in the muscles after physical activity, typically referred to as post-exercise or “muscle-soreness”. This is caused by microscopic tears in the muscle fibers and connective tissues, which leads to an inflammatory response that causes discomfort. Generally, the stiffness will subside in a couple of days.

However, if you experience pain that persists beyond 48 hours, worsens with activity or is severe enough to limit your daily activities; it may be time to see a doctor. Pain accompanied by swelling and/or bruising should also be evaluated immediately as they may indicate serious damage that requires medical attention. Other signs such as fever, redness or unusual fatigue could be signs of a more serious issue like dislocations, strain or tear; which can require immobilization and rehabilitation plans when treated properly.

Whenever pain does not subside after a few days of rest and ice treatments; it is important for individuals to consult with a physician for proper diagnosis and treatment. Being able to recognize warning signs can help you determine when it’s time to visit your doctor so you can get back on track with your health goals safely and effectively.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Although mild soreness after a workout may be common, if the pain is severe or persists for days, you should seek medical attention. There are several situations in which it may be important to contact a doctor in order to assess whether or not your symptoms require medical treatment.

1. Difficulty walking: If you experience difficulty when walking due to muscle soreness even after rest and hydration, this could be an indication of a more serious condition such as a muscle strain or tear. In such cases, seeking immediate medical attention could be important for preventing long-term damage or disability.

2. Unusual symptoms: In addition to usual post-workout discomfort, if you are experiencing any unusual symptoms such as fever, chills dizziness, weakness or shortness of breath that do not improve despite rest and fluid intake, it is best to consult your physician as soon as possible. This could be an indication of an infection that requires prompt treatment.

3. Pain with movement: If you experience sudden sharp pain when moving the affected area that decreases somewhat when still but continues to cause discomfort and limits movement even after proper rest and hydration then it is advisable to visit your doctor in order to understand the potential cause of this issue and decide on appropriate interventions.

4. Joint pain: Sometimes joint pain can accompany muscle soreness following exercise due to overuse; however, if joint pain persists for long periods of time or is accompanied by swelling at the joint site then it is often a sign of inflammation which requires medical evaluation and possible treatment with anti-inflammatory medications prescribed by the doctor.

If any of these situations arise following exercise sessions then be sure contact your physician for further evaluation and management in order to avoid any potential risk from underlying conditions or injuries that may otherwise go unnoticed over time .

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