Muscle Soreness Post-Exercise – Good or Bad?

You may think that if you don’t get sore your training’s a bore. However, exercising smart from the start will have you soon realizing more gains than pains!


With new health goals top of mind, this month will have many people reviving or beginning fresh with some type of fitness or wellness program. When it comes to assessing the effectiveness of a fitness outing, some individuals are using a feeling of soreness as a guage – the more, the better. They tend to look at pain as the goal marker that tells them they’ve pushed themselves to the max. This “No pain, no gain” philosophy can be a little misleading, however, due to the stigma attached to it that if the individual doesn’t feel any pain post-exercise then it was a wasted effort.

Distinguishing Between Good and Bad Muscle Pain

When it comes to pushing towards making gains with any training program, the words should more aptly be said; “No fatigue, no gain” because you are trying to exhaust your muscles, not cause damage.

It is important to note that microscopic tearing is good (actual tearing of the muscle fibers), whereas slight rearing of the muscles (inflammation of the tendons) is bad.


Delayed-onset muscle soreness is the pain caused by the microscopic tearing of muscle fibers, and it actually allows your muscles to grow. The best way to combat the soreness is adequate rest between bouts of exercise accompanied by proper nutrition.
Just how much rest and how many and which type of calories will depend on the intensity level and goal of the individual.

DOMS can be caused by:

  • Being new to working out
  • Trying a new exercise you are not accustomed to
  • Pushing muscles beyond their normal range of motion
  • Performing different types of resistance contractions such as eccentric or negatives
  • Performing an exercise not tried in a while
  • Increasing intensity, frequency or duration
  • Aerobic or anaerobic activity

Should You Be Sore Every Day?

If you train regularly your body will adapt, thus keeping muscle soreness minimal. If you are sore most days then it’s possible you may be over-training (not enough rest days between exercise) or training too hard, which can lead to injuries down the road due to over-use.

So, be sure to keep your muscle soreness in check and you’ll be pushing yourself safely toward new fitness gains.


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