Why Does Workout Hurt?

Workout should never hurt, but sometimes it does. Learn what might be causing your pain and how to make your workout work for you.


Whether you’re a professional athlete or weekend warrior, you know that a healthy lifestyle includes physical activity. But why does this activity have to be so demanding? Physical exertion can cause pain, fatigue, and soreness – in other words, it hurts!

It may surprise you to find out that muscle soreness after exercise is completely normal and actually beneficial for your body. This post-workout discomfort is the result of physical stress placed on the muscles during exercise which ultimately leads to our bodies making adaptations to increase strength, endurance, and flexibility over time.

The severity of the soreness that you feel depends upon the type of exercise that was done as well as how hard you worked during it. While some payment may persist up to 48 hours after working out, there are numerous things that can be done before and after exercising in order to minimize the level of discomfort experienced. In this article we will discuss why it hurts when we work out and how we can better manage it.

What Causes Muscle Soreness?

Have you ever experienced muscle soreness after a workout? This type of post-exercise pain is a common occurrence, and it can range from gentle discomfort to intense soreness. There are many different factors that can contribute to muscle soreness, and understanding these factors can help you create a better and safer workout routine. Let’s take a look at the most common causes of muscle soreness.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, commonly referred to as DOMS, is muscle soreness caused by exercise that may occur several hours after the workout. The cause of this type of muscle soreness is usually eccentric contraction, which occurs when muscles lengthen as tension is applied. For example, during a bicep curl downward motion is an eccentric contraction.

Consequently, movements that involve stretching or greater effort are likely to cause DOMS. This type of exercise places additional strain on the muscles and can lead to soreness and pain lasting up to 48 hours. It’s important to maintain proper form while exercising in order to avoid this type of soreness, as well as engaging in an adequate warm-up and cool-down routine.

In addition to this muscle damage there may also be inflammation present due to microscopic tears caused by exercised muscles which can also contribute to DOMS. Proper nutrition with ample protein intake will help aid the body’s natural healing processes while consuming enough fluids will ensure that toxins are flushed from the body and help prevent dehydration from occurring due to increased perspiration during exercise sessions.

Eccentric Muscle Contractions

One of the primary causes of muscle soreness is eccentric contractions, which are lengthening muscle contractions. Eccentric contractions occur when a muscle is asked to generate force at its maximum length to control the joint’s range of motion. This type of contraction puts more strain on the tissue than when it contracts while at rest, hence why it causes delayed onset muscle soreness up to two days after exercise. Most strength training exercises use both concentric and eccentric actions, with a longer duration required for the eccentric phase than the concentric one. Eccentric exercises can be used in conjunction with stretching to help improve flexibility or as a stand-alone strength and conditioning program but should be done with caution as they can cause a greater amount of fatigue and microscopic tears in the muscles than other types of exercise.

Muscle Damage

Muscle soreness is a common side effect of physical exercise, and it typically results from microscopic damage to the muscle fiber as it adapts to increased stress. This type of pain or discomfort is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It tends to start several hours after a workout, peak between 24 to 72 hours and subside within four to seven days.

The primary cause of muscle damage during exercise is eccentric contractions, also known as negative contractions. Eccentric contractions occur when your muscles lengthen while under tension — for example, when you lower a heavy weight or run downhill. On the other hand, concentric contractions are shortening muscular actions such as lifting the weight in the same example and getting up off a chair. Concentric actions can also produce some localized muscle fatigue but are much less likely than eccentric contractions to cause DOMS.

The associated muscle damage leads to inflammation which is responsible for triggering DOMS. Studies indicate that this type of pain results from changes in the proteins associated with actin filaments inside your muscles — more specifically, a destabilization of their connecting structures, known as myofibrils. Other biochemical changes occur inside your muscle cells such as calcium leakage and an increase in enzymes released into the bloodstream during exercise-induced inflammation that all contribute to building resistance or strength over time.

How to Manage Muscle Soreness

After an intense workout, it’s common to feel soreness in the muscles. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and it can last from 24 to 48 hours after exercise. While it is perfectly normal to feel sore after a workout, there are a few strategies you can use to reduce the discomfort. In this article, we will discuss how to manage muscle soreness so that it won’t stop you from achieving your fitness goals.

Warm Up Before Workout

Before any physical activity, it is important to complete a proper warm up to reduce muscle soreness. This means lightly raising your heart rate by engaging in aerobic exercises, such as running or biking, for 10-15 minutes. This activity will help your body better respond to the main workout through active stretching and muscle activation. It can also mentally prepare you for the workout ahead, by allowing the body to focus on the physical task at hand rather than be scattered around different movements. After your warm up is complete, you should aim to perform dynamic stretches like ankle circles or trunk twists which will allow for more range of movement in joints and more flexibility in muscles during your exercise routine. Another important step during the warm up is performing smaller versions of certain exercises included in the workout like squats or lunges as this sends a signal to muscles that they need to get ready to move. By following these steps during pre-workout exercises, muscular soreness can be reduced and performance improved. Furthermore, taking a few minutes afterwards for a cool down keeps DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) at bay since it facilitates blood flow back from muscles used during training and allows them time to decrease tension from intense exercise bouts.

Use Proper Form

One of the most common causes of muscle soreness and injury is improper form or technique when exercising. Mastering proper form and technique for different movements and exercises can help significantly reduce the risk of muscle soreness and injury. The following are some tips for good exercise form:

1. Balance: Be aware of your balance when performing an exercise to ensure that you are evenly distributing your weight. This can help prevent overstressing muscles in your body, leading to potential pain or injury.

2. Posture: Having proper posture during any exercise will help your body distribute pressure in an equal manner to a variety of muscle groups, as opposed to having all the strain on only certain areas. Keeping a straight back while executing any exercise will help correct any strain that may occur while performing it incorrectly with poor posture.

3. Alignment: Keeping your joints aligned properly when doing certain exercises is crucial because misalignment can cause uneven pressure and pain on particular joints or muscles, which can not only produce soreness but even lead to more serious harm if repeated often enough.

4. Target Muscle Group Isolation: When working out with weights, isolate your chosen target muscle group so that it gets adequate stimulation from the movement; otherwise, other surrounding muscles will have to work harder at stabilizing the action which could lead to imbalances in other areas due to overtraining one group more than another group needs it tested for development.

Take Rest Days

Recovery is an important part of any exercise program, and rest days are essential for allowing the body time to adapt and heal from the stress of physical activity. Taking at least one full rest day between your workouts will allow your body to recover, reduce muscle stiffness and soreness, and improve overall performance. Rest days can help keep your workouts fresh by giving you a break from the same routine on a regular basis.

When recovering from strenuous exercise, it’s best to focus on light activity that won’t stress your muscles further. Low-intensity activities such as walking or stretching can increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles without overworking them. Soaking in a hot bath or doing yoga can also be helpful in reducing soreness.

Getting enough sleep is also important for muscle recovery after intense workout sessions. Sleep increases production of human growth hormone (HGH), which helps rebuild torn muscle tissue more quickly than would otherwise be possible. Growth hormones are particularly effective at healing muscle fibers following strength training exercises like weightlifting, plyometrics and other high-resistance workouts that put extra strain on the muscles with each repetition. Aim for seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep per night for optimal recovery periods between workouts.

Apply Heat or Cold

After completing a physically demanding workout or outdoor activity, your body may start to feel stiff and sore. To help alleviate the pain, applying cold or hot therapy may offer some relief. Depending on the type and severity of muscle soreness you’re experiencing, either cold or hot therapy can be effective at easing discomfort.

Cold therapy is most commonly used for recent injuries where there is swelling, inflammation or bruising present. When applied, it constricts blood vessels which reduces inflammation thereby reducing pain. It can also be used to reduce nerve activity resulting in decreased muscle spasms and improved mobility by decreasing the sensation of pain. It is typically recommended to use an ice packwrapped in cloth directly on the skull itself for 10 minutes at a time with 20 minute breaks in between uses.

Heat therapy has been long used as an effective way to soothe aches and pains associated with chronic conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia as well as during recovery from surgery or athletic injuries like muscle strains or sprains. Heat dramatically increases circulation which helps alleviate stiffness around joints while promoting healing of soft tissues within the body allowing muscles to relax and reducing joint stiffness leading to improved function and restoration of motion over time. Commonly used heat sources are heating pads, hot packs (wheat bags), warm baths/showers, hydrotherapy pools and infrared saunas all applied for approximately 15-20 minutes at a time but should not exceed 40 minutes for any outside heat source per application period.


To conclude, it is important to note that the cause of post-workout pain or soreness isn’t always due to lactic acid build-up. Sometimes, the muscle soreness you experience is simply your body’s way of adapting to a new type of exercise. Though some discomfort is normal and necessary for physical improvement, it’s essential that you exercise properly and don’t overdo it. Always listen to your body’s signs for rest and recovery, and don’t be afraid to ask questions whenever you are unsure about anything related to your workout routine. By taking the time to learn why your body is feeling the way it does after working out, you can ensure that you are achieving fitness goals successfully while also protecting yourself from potential injury.

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