Muscle Pain After Exercise: What You Need to Know

Muscle pain after exercise, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), is a common occurrence for many people who regularly engage in physical activity. This type of muscle pain typically occurs 24-48 hours after exercising and can last for several days. While it may be uncomfortable, DOMS is a normal response to physical activity and does not usually indicate any serious injury or health issue.

Causes of Muscle Pain After Exercise

There are several factors that can contribute to muscle pain after exercise. The most common cause is the micro-tears that occur in the muscles during strenuous physical activity. These tiny tears in the muscle fibers are a normal part of the muscle building process and can lead to soreness and stiffness.

Other potential causes of DOMS include:

  • New or intense physical activity: When starting a new exercise routine or increasing the intensity of your workouts, your muscles may not be used to the level of stress placed on them. This can result in more severe muscle pain after exercise.
  • Eccentric movements: Many exercises involve eccentric movements, where the muscle lengthens under tension. These types of movements put more strain on the muscles and can contribute to DOMS.
  • Dehydration or electrolyte imbalance: Not properly hydrating before, during, or after exercise can lead to muscle cramps and soreness. Additionally, an imbalance of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium can also contribute to DOMS.
  • Lack of proper warm-up or cool-down: Skipping a proper warm-up before exercising or not cooling down properly afterward can increase the likelihood of experiencing muscle pain.
  • Inadequate recovery time: Not giving your body enough time to rest between workouts can lead to overworked muscles and increased risk of DOMS.

Treatment for Muscle Pain After Exercise

The good news is that DOMS is a normal and temporary condition that will eventually subside on its own. However, there are some things you can do to alleviate the discomfort and promote faster recovery:

  • Rest: Allow your muscles to rest and recover by taking a break from intense physical activity. This will give your body time to repair the micro-tears in your muscles.
  • Stretching: Gentle stretching exercises can help improve flexibility and alleviate soreness.
  • Heat therapy: Applying heat to the affected area can increase blood flow and help ease muscle tension.
  • Massage: A gentle massage can help promote blood flow and reduce tension in the muscles. You can use a CBD topical cream to enhance the effects of your massage.
  • Proper hydration and nutrition: Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated. Also, consuming a balanced diet with enough protein can aid in muscle recovery.

If you continue to experience severe or persistent muscle pain after exercise, consulting with a healthcare professional is best. They can help determine if there may be other underlying issues causing your discomfort.

Prevention of Muscle Pain After Exercise

While DOMS is a natural part of physical activity, there are some steps you can take to prevent excessive soreness and reduce its severity:

  • Gradual progression: When starting a new exercise routine, it is important to gradually increase the intensity over time rather than jumping into high-intensity workouts right away.
  • Proper form: Ensuring you are using proper form during exercises can help prevent unnecessary strain on your muscles.
  • Warm-up and cool-down: Always start with a proper warm-up before exercising and end with a cool-down session to prepare and recover your muscles.
  • Alternating muscle groups: Don’t focus solely on one muscle group in each workout. Instead, alternate between different muscle groups to give them enough recovery time.


Muscle pain after exercise is a common occurrence and is usually not a cause for concern. It is a sign that your muscles are adapting and getting stronger. By taking proper precautions, you can prevent or reduce the severity of DOMS and continue to enjoy the many benefits of regular physical activity. Remember to listen to your body, stay hydrated, and give yourself enough time to rest and recover between workouts.

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