Muscle soreness has long been considered a sign of hard exercise. In reality, though, the soreness you feel after exercising may actually be caused by microscopic muscle damage that triggers an inflammatory response in your muscles.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS usually develops hours or even days post workout and should be seen as part of your journey to building stronger, more resilient muscles.

1. It’s normal

Muscle soreness is an inevitable result of exercise, yet it can be frustrating – particularly after working out regularly and used to feeling great afterward. Sore muscles may make you want to halt or scale back on physical activities for some time, making you want to take a break altogether from exercise altogether.

Muscles become sore when exposed to physical strain they are unaccustomed to, be it from exercise like a workout session or general physical strain such as lifting heavy weights, running downhill or shoveling snow. As part of these stressful activities, fibers within muscles stretch and tear resulting in microscopic tears which then heal themselves naturally creating soreness after an intensive workout session.

Muscle soreness typically lasts no more than 48 hours and usually subsides over time. It often follows new exercises or an intensified workout; its severity will also depend on what activity was undertaken and its intensity level.

If your muscles remain sore for several days and you find that taking the stairs requires stopping to catch your breath, that could be an indicator that they need a rest from intense training. Instead, try low-intensity exercises such as taking a walk, using an elliptical machine, swimming or using hot showers/heating pads (carefully) to stimulate blood flow and ease tightness in muscles.

Muscle soreness should not be confused with pain. Pain refers to any sharp sensation in an area that keeps you awake at night or prevents movement. If the discomfort does not respond to rest, contact a physical therapist (PTA). These movement experts specialize in diagnosing and treating pain through hands on care, patient education and prescribed movement regimens.

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2. It’s a sign of progress

Fitness enthusiasts understand that being sore after exercising is part of the fitness experience; indeed, some degree of post-workout soreness could even be taken as evidence that your muscles are growing and adapting!

Muscle soreness is likely caused by lactic acid buildup during exercise, produced when your body breaks down carbohydrates for energy production. The buildup results in burning sensations during and directly after physical exertion; this usually clears away within hours after exercising has stopped; any soreness afterwards likely due to microdamage to muscle fibers and an inflammatory response, according to Dr. Hedt.

Post-exercise soreness can be seen as a positive thing; its recovery process helps your muscles become stronger and more capable, thus signifying that your workout was beneficial and led to desired results. Soreness should be taken as an indication that it has done its job.

However, if your soreness persists or there hasn’t been any visible progress with regards to lifting weight or reps done, something might be amiss and it would be prudent to consult your physician, trainer or another health professional before trying to push through and risk injury.

Keep in mind that a certain level of soreness is necessary for optimal performance. Soreness is a side-effect of pushing yourself beyond your limits during exercise, and is necessary to building strength and reaching fitness goals. So don’t allow slight soreness after a workout to derail your progress!

To minimize post-workout soreness, the best approach is to gradually increase intensity over time. This will give your body time to adapt and minimize how quickly you experience its effects; resting and recovering on days when you don’t exercise is also essential for healing purposes.

3. It’s a sign of injury

Sore muscles may be an indicator of an effective workout, but if the pain interferes with daily activities or worsens over time it might be worth seeing a physical therapist or doctor. Injury pain usually manifests itself in one area with sharp or stabbing sensations that increase when moving the joint or muscle and can even prevent sleep quality.

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After a hard workout, delayed onset muscle soreness is completely normal if you’re new to fitness or haven’t exercised in some time. This kind of soreness results from small tears in muscle fibers that occur during the session; once these heal and rebuild stronger than ever! It’s actually a good sign!

If your symptoms don’t improve after several days of rest, speaking to your physical therapist could help devise an action plan to alleviate pain and get you back on the right path.

Experts advise taking additional steps beyond physical therapy sessions to ease muscle soreness:

Reduce impact with low-impact exercises such as swimming or walking; yoga provides stretching and relaxation benefits, as does eating healthily nutrient-rich foods to give your muscles what they need to heal faster. Non-rapid eye movement sleep can play a vital role in your recovery as NREM sleep stimulates protein synthesis to repair and strengthen muscles faster.

Remember, your muscle soreness may differ from someone else’s; it should feel achy or tight across an entire muscle group or body region rather than in one specific spot; mild to moderate soreness is acceptable, however debilitating pain should be addressed accordingly. Extreme, persistent or severe soreness could indicate an injury; seek medical advice immediately if pain does not subside within seven days, feels numb, or prevents you from walking or moving freely.

4. It’s a sign of overtraining

Exercise when your muscles are sore, you aren’t providing them enough time to recover, which could lead to overuse injuries and stunt muscle growth. Mild soreness after exercising is normal but lasting more than 24 to 48 hours should be a signal that it may be time for a break and your body to rejuvenate itself.

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As people become stronger, soreness may lessen over time – but this doesn’t indicate ineffective training sessions; rather, it could indicate their bodies have adapted to certain movements more comfortably or that they’re overexerting themselves.

Overtraining can result in numerous symptoms, including muscle soreness, fatigue, mood changes and loss of strength or endurance. Overtraining may also interrupt your sleep cycle by leaving you waking feeling fatigued or having difficulty falling asleep at night; it may even have a profound impact on appetite; leading to weight loss or gain depending on how it impacts it.

One of the primary causes of muscle soreness is microtrauma in your muscles, caused when exercising at high intensities or trying something new. That is why it is beneficial to introduce new exercises or routines periodically as this may prevent microtrauma and keep muscles working optimally.

Another reason people experience less soreness may be because their muscles are strengthening with exercise and adapting to it better, though this should still be monitored carefully if soreness persists after several days – it might be worth adding some new exercises!

Common belief has it that soreness is caused by lactic acid build-up in muscles, inhibiting their ability to contract. But research has revealed otherwise; rather, pain stems from complex physiological reactions caused by microscopic damage sustained during exercise – one such process includes increasing production of cells which make nerve endings more sensitive, sending signals back to the brain that result in feelings of soreness.