What is Soreness of Muscle? Indicates Growth, Damage, or Both?

What is Soreness of Muscle?

Soreness of muscle is a feeling of discomfort or pain in one or more muscles of the body. Soreness in muscles can be described as a dull ache or stiffness in the affected muscles, and it can range from mild to severe. It may be localized to a specific area or may be felt throughout the entire muscle group.

The blame goes to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) which emerges 24 to 72 hours after the activity and resolves on its own.

How and What: DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

What: Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a common temporary condition resulting in pain, stiffness and tenderness.

How: DOMS is thought to be caused by microscopic tears in the muscle fibers and connective tissues, commonly triggered by the eccentric load placed upon the muscle.


Why does muscle get sore in the first place?

A muscle gets sore typically due to microscopic damage to the muscle fibers and connective tissues, resulting in inflammation and swelling. This damage can be caused by physical activity that puts stress and strain on the muscles, especially intense or unfamiliar exercise. The body’s natural response to this damage is inflammation and repair, which can take a few days and result in pain, stiffness, and tenderness.

Other factors that can contribute to the soreness of muscle include dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, poor nutrition, and stress or anxiety.

What helps for sore muscles?

There are several things you can do to alleviate sore muscles:

  • Rest: For easy relief of sore muscles, avoiding further strenuous activity can help prevent further damage.
  • Massage: A gentle massage can help increase blood flow to the affected area and promote healing.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation, helping you recover from muscle soreness.
  • Stretching: It reduces unnecessary tension in muscles, reducing discomfort. Read below for more details.
  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of water can help flush out toxins, which means a quick relief of sore muscles.
Using ice or heat on Sore Muscles?

The use of either has different benefits, as mentioned in the illustration;

Have a sore muscle? Stretch!

Stretching a sore muscle can help alleviate stiffness, reduce pain, and promote healing. When muscles are sore, they can become tight and contracted, which can lead to further pain and discomfort. A simple stretch can help to release this tension, and increase flexibility, which can prevent further damage.

By stretching, muscle soreness further decreases as it increases blood flow to the affected area. This can reduce inflammation and stimulate the release of endorphins, natural pain-relieving chemicals produced by the body.

A muscle sore after working out?

After working out, sore muscles indicate damage caused to the muscle tissue and the repair process that follows, as discussed. It is a common phenomenon, especially for beginners and mainly requires adequate nutrition, hydration, and rest. Such soreness in muscle doesn’t necessarily mean that you are severely injured. For subsequent workouts, lower your intensity and volume, especially, if you are involving the same muscle group.

⚠️Working out, when sore, muscles may not be able to perform at their max and may leave you with more pain and discomfort.

Are some of the muscles sore? “No Reason” might also be the reason!

Soreness of muscle or a muscle group can sometimes occur for no apparent reason, and there are several potential causes:

  • Stress: Physical or emotional stress can cause tension in the muscles, leading to soreness.
  • Poor posture: Sitting or standing in a position that places strain on the muscles can lead to soreness over time.
  • Dehydration: Not drinking enough water can cause muscle soreness and cramps.
  • Vitamin deficiencies: It may be caused by a deficiency of certain vitamins, such as vitamin D and B12.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as statins (used to lower cholesterol), can cause muscle soreness as a side effect.

If you’re experiencing soreness for no apparent reason, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Muscular Soreness? Muscle Growth or Breakage? A Conclusion

It is safe to say that there is indeed some breakage, as muscle fibers suffer tactile stress and get damaged. These fibers are then repaired to form bigger and stronger muscle fibers to bear a similar load next time. Isn’t it the same mechanism as muscle hypertrophy?

So yes, soreness of muscle does indicate muscular growth, given that it is induced by progressive overload in a weight-lifting program. If it is caused by stress, poor posture, medications, etc., there will be no muscular growth.


About the Author

Muhammad Usman

Administrator, and Contributor at KeepUpFitness.

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