Why Do Muscles Get Sore?

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the muscle pain or discomfort often felt from 24 to 72 hours after intense exercise. DOMS typically subsides within two or three days. Although the precise cause is unknown, the type of muscle contraction seems to be a factor in the development of DOMS. 

Exercises that involve many loaded, eccentric contractions can result in the most severe cases of DOMS. For example, think about the quadriceps when you are in a squat position. As you hold that squat, you can see that the thigh muscle is under tension and stretched. You may be able to assume this type of position every day without any soreness, but when you add external load (such as holding heavy weights or a heavy object above and beyond what you normally might carry in daily life), soreness occurs. There is no need to be alarmed by the onset of DOMS. It generally subsides in a couple of days.

 Additionally, it is important not to measure the effectiveness or the success of your workout based on the appearance of DOMS. Typically, if you try a new exercise, perform it in a new sequence, use new patterns, or add additional loads, DOMS will be more likely to occur. 

If you do not experience DOMS, that is not an indication that your workout is not intense enough or unsuccessful. Training in a state of constant soreness would be uncomfortable, although you may be able to adapt to it. The relationship among muscle soreness, rest, and hypertrophy can be a controversial topic where bodybuilding is concerned. 

Some have claimed that perpetual muscle soreness ensures muscle growth, but rest and recovery are required for optimal training results. One possible way to reduce DOMS is by stretching before and after exercise. Warming up before and cooling down after exercise can also be beneficial. 

Other evidence, however, suggests that stretching has no impact on DOMS. Flexibility training is an extremely important component of fitness that should not be avoided or under emphasized. However, stretching after an intense workout will not decrease the onset of DOMS. 

Flexibility training is most beneficial when performed midway through and at the end of a workout, but it will not reduce your chances of experiencing DOMS. Some fitness experts have recommended contrast showers—alternating between cold and hot waterto increase circulation as a possible treatment for DOMS. However, the best way to recover from DOMS is simply to take time. You need about 24 to 48 hours to recover from this muscle rebuilding process.

Science Behind Strength Training

The information on strength training provided to this point has been on a general level, the type of information you might see in a women’s magazine or in a pamphlet advocating the benefits of strength training for women. However, to understand how strength training really works, let’s dig a little deeper into the bonafide science behind increased lean mass and what this means for a woman and her body.

Muscles and Their Response to Strength Training Strength training focuses on skeletal muscles because these are the muscles you can control during activity. Skeletal muscles themselves are a complex arrangement of fibers organized into bundles surrounded by connective tissues. These connective tissues transmit the force of muscle contraction to the tendons, which are attached to bones, which ultimately cause movement when stimulated via nervous impulses.

Therefore, direct stimulation from the central nervous system via muscles ultimately moves limbs and creates joint actions, or body movements, to occur.Human skeletal muscles come in two varieties. Slow-twitch muscles (also referred to as Type Ia) enable you to stand upright and walk.

 The muscles of the core are made up primarily of this type. The other variety, fast-twitch muscles, are divided into two categories: Type II a and Type II b. These provide the power for movements such as pushing, pulling, lifting, and throwing.The term muscle contraction actually implies muscle shortening, but muscles can produce force while lengthening or maintaining a specific length. For example, to pick up an object, you bend (or flex) your elbow joint and use the biceps muscle to assist your hand in grasping the object to pick it up. 

The biceps muscle is contracted,or shortened, to produce the necessary force to accomplish this task. Likewise, when you are in a plank position (the up phase of a push-up), you are contracting many muscles to hold that position, but there is no change in muscle length. Therefore,you are producing force in the skeletal muscles without changing the length of the muscles. 

Because the word contraction can mean a variety of things, the term muscle action is actually more descriptive and more appropriate when discussing exercise and what muscles do in response to exercise. Isotonic muscle actions include concentric (muscle shortening) and eccentric (muscle lengthening). Isometric muscle actions involve the production of force without movement.

A concentric muscle action occurs when a muscle produces force, resulting in a shortening of the muscle fibers and the creation of torque. For example, when you flex your knee, your hamstring muscles shorten and produce force in the back of your thigh.Torque is yet another term for the force produced when a muscle is pushed, pulled, or twisted around a joint. 

Torque usually refers to twisting or rotating movements. Sometimes this is a good thing, but torque can be undesirable,resulting in an increased risk of injury. 

An eccentric muscle action occurs when torque is produced while the muscle is being lengthened. When the speed and the force of a muscle contraction are low, both slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers are recruited. When the muscle contraction is fast and requires more force, the slow twitch muscle is too slow to contribute as much, so the predominant fiber type is fast twitch.