Why am I sore after working out?
The simplest answer to the question “why am I sore after working out” would be to say that you did too much. But that’s not really a good answer is it because there are a multitude of reasons why a person gets sore after working out.
The most obvious reason someone gets sore is because they aren’t used to doing what they just did and their muscles are rebelling. Another reason is they may have placed too much of an emphasis on one muscle group and overdid it in the last session. On the other hand, they could have gone too long in their workout.
Most likely, you exercised a new group of muscles in a different way by using too much weight, adding extra repetitions to your sets or doing full range of motion in each of your repetitions when you weren’t used to it.
The most common exercise that produces soreness afterwards is the squat because squatting exercises the large muscle group in the legs and people are not used to doing a full squat. Even a small number of total repetitions, such as twenty-four, in an inexperienced lifter will cause soreness the day after. This is delayed onset muscle soreness, which in itself is not a bad thing depending on the severity of the soreness.
This muscle pain could be from an accumulation of waste products in the muscle or microscopic tears in the muscle tissues themselves. The latter seems to be the prevailing thought on the cause of the soreness.
Even though it seems that a muscle tear would be a bad thing, these microscopic tears actually encourage the muscles to become stronger by repairing the tissues in a manner that makes them more resistant to the tears in the future. This process is what builds greater muscle mass and increases your strength and endurance. It’s a training guide referred to as progressive exercise, because you don’t start at the top and work your way higher, you start at the bottom and build up your ability to lift more and go farther.
However, if the pain is excruciating, you need to be seeing a doctor to find out what was injured. Excessive pain means you need a break to recover and then make plans to modify your exercise program to prevent future occurrences of this nature.
Minor pain normally goes away on its own because your muscles are getting stronger or your cardiovascular system is adapting to the stresses you are putting on it. However, a sudden, sharp, and acute pain is a danger signal that you have pushed yourself too hard, too fast. At this point, the prudent action is to stop, evaluate and start protecting yourself from further damage by following the rice protocol.
The rice protocol is an acronym for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The severity of the soreness will govern whether not you seek medical advice. Normally if it hasn’t subsided within several days see your doctor may be prudent.
An overall body warm-up that is followed by a torso specific warm-up and ending with an exercise specific warm-up will go a long ways towards avoiding an injury while exercising. These do not have to be fifteen and twenty minute warm-ups. Likewise, they should not be static or passive stretches unless you are having difficulties in specific areas and need this extra assistance to regain your full range of motion at these locations. If so, do them, but end up with an active movement in that area. Otherwise, keep your pre-session stretches dynamic.
You can start out by skipping rope or riding a bike and gradually building up your speed until your heart rate and breathing are increased and you are sweating a slight amount. Next, depending on your exercise session, do an upper, middle or lower torso warm up. Follow these with the first set of your specific exercise for the day. It may be a slow run progressing into a fast run or a light set of squats moving up in weight to the top work out sets.
After you are finished with your exercises, do static stretches for the major muscle groups. This is a perfect time because your whole body is warmed up. The muscles are flexible, pliable, and the nervous system is at peak efficiency; the perfect setting to regain any lost range of motion or to increase the range of motion.