Sports Injury Clinic

Why Do We Hurt After Exercise?

on August 17, 2020


It is great when you ramp up the  training! I know the feeling,


So my guess is that after sessions you are aching maybe more than normal! We all love that walk down the stairs the day after a session!


So why do you ache and how can we prevent it!


Well there are two main theories to why we ache in the morning and I thought I would explain them both.


Firstly a quick bit of information. The pain you experience days after exercise is called DOMS. This stands for Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness


  1. Lactic acid!


When I was being educated (so yes a while ago now!) this was the common belief for the cause of DOMS. Put simply when we exercise we produce lactic acid as by product of the energy production. Therefore our muscles have increased acidity after exercise and this is believed to cause stiffness!


So what can you do about that?


Well what we want to is drain the lactic acid away from the muscles. This will allow your bodies natural drainage system (lymphatic system) to get rid of it.


So following exercise we want to try and assist this process so lying down and raising your legs after exercise will allow gravity to be your friend. We recommend doing this for 5-10 mins.


  1. Micro Tear Theory


So this one sounds more dramatic than it actually is. Effectively when we are working out we damage our muscle fibres. Not as bad as it sounds as the result is that they grow back stronger, result!!


However, these micro tears are believed to cause us pain the next day or two.


So how can we help this, well things like protein and ice are both ways that we can reduce the effects of this soreness.


Protein allows the muscles to grow and repair whilst ice will reduce any inflammation that has been created as a result of the micro tears!


So by adding both to your life during the 24hrs post exercise will help!


However, it is important to remember there is a fine line between a micro tear and a full tear.


Micro tears should fell like an ache. If you are experiencing pain then things may of progressed beyond a micro tear! So worth getting that checked out!


Finally, why do I think a lot of people ache after exercise! Good old fashioned muscle tightness. As you have worked out your muscles have become tighter and tighter. So if we leave them like that, how will they remain…you guessed it, TIGHT! Then when you need them to work they don’t like it!


So my favourite bit of advice, don’t forget to stretch!!


What do I believe, well in truth I believe all three contribute. Let’s worry less about what makes us sore and more about how to prevent its effects! So in summary


  1. Lay on your back with your legs raised following exercise, enjoy gravity.
  2. Increase your hydration to help to flush through your body.
  3. Increase protein in your diet for 24 hours after exercise.
  4. Apply ice for 5-10 min periods
  5. Light stretching
  6. Finally enjoy it, this pain is just weakness leaving the body!

Did you know we have a free stretching and mobility course? Feel like improving your mobility click here