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Why you are sore after work out and how to avoid it (the science behind it)

Updated: Feb 15

So first, let’s talk about why we even feel sore sometimes after we’ve trained.

Being sore after a workout is something people experience if they haven’t worked the muscles they’ve just trained in a while. This is the case if they’re beginners, or if they’re starting a new program or exercise.

Basically, the soreness is the side effect of your muscles trying to adapt to the new stimuli that you’re presenting it with. This causes them to work harder than they’re used to, causing small, microscopic tears that can occur in the muscle fibers, hence the soreness.

This is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, more commonly known as DOMS. It tends to appear 24 to 48 hours after you’ve worked out. That’s why sometimes the second day of soreness can actually be greater than the first.

DOMS isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it isn’t a good thing either. It’s just something that happens to everyone if you’re trying something that you’re not accustomed to. Once your body adapts, then you’ll be less likely to experience it.

However, many people believe that being sore is an indicator that you’ve had a good workout.

This is not true.

It just means your body isn’t used to whatever training or workout you completed and once it learns to adapt, you’ll feel less sore, though this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s becoming less effective. So don’t stress if you wake up one day and you’re not feeling the effects.

What Should I Do If I’m Feeling Sore After A Workout?

"If you do experience DOMS though, there are some things that you can do to minimize the effects so you can get back to feeling brand new as soon as possible."


Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release that can loosen muscles and relieve soreness. Grab a foam roller and use it to massage your aching areas, going over the trigger points in particular. This will release the tension and ease your muscles.


Staying hydrated is important all of the time, but it really helps when you’re experiencing DOMS. When your muscle breaks down, as it does during exercise, your body releases waste products and toxins that can contribute to your soreness. While your liver and kidney are the primary organs that help to flush them out, staying hydrated can help speed the process.


When you’re feeling the effects of DOMS, chances are you want to curl up and stay still.

However, this can have the opposite effect of what you want. Instead, incorporating some light movement into your day can help loosen the muscles and increase blood flow around the body. This increased blood flow means more nutrients and oxygen is being transported to your muscles which accelerates the recovery process.

The focus is on light movement so don’t do anything too strenuous like an intense heavy lifting or high volume session. Keep things easy like a leisurely walk or gentle jog. If your DOMS isn’t too bad, then even a very light strength session or even just bodyweight exercises can get that blood flow moving without adding more strain to your body.

If you need some ideas, the FitBod app can tailor-make workouts based on your individual skill level and preferences.


Stretching can do wonders for your body. Incorporating some light stretching can make you feel better by relieving the feeling of muscle tightness. However, you need to be careful not to overstretch which can definitely cause more harm than good.

Don’t stretch to the point where you feel pain. That is the bad kind of pain that you don’t want to feel.

Instead, stretch until you feel some tension in your muscle but not too much that it hurts. Hold the position for 30-60 seconds and then repeat.

Also, as you stretch, you’ll find that you will be able to gradually increase your range of motion so don’t expect to immediately be at your most flexible when you first start. Each time you repeat the stretch, safely challenge yourself to stretch a little further than before.


You should be consuming adequate amounts of protein in your day-to-day diet already but if you’re feeling sore, then it’s a great reminder to double-check your protein intake to make sure that you are.

Protein is responsible for the repair and recovery of your muscle tissue in the body and are the building blocks of muscle so it’s pivotal that you’re eating enough. Some examples of protein include your usual meats like chicken, turkey or beef. You can also incorporate egg into your diet or tofu, tempeh and legumes if you need a plant-based source.

Final Notes

It is a common misconception that feeling sore is a sign that you’ve had an effective workout. However, it is merely an indicator that you’re trying something new your body isn’t used to. A good workout doesn’t necessarily mean you have to feel sore the next day. Instead, focus on other variables that tell you whether your strength training is going well like heavier weights, increased rep or shorter rest times. And if you do feel sore, then follow our guidelines to help you recover faster so you can get right back into it.

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