Question: Why do your muscles sometimes hurt after a workout?

Answer 1/2
The phenomenon of muscles hurting a day or two after exercising is called "Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness" (DOMS).

An intense workout causes lots of microscopic tears in your muscles. The soreness you feel 24-48 hours later is a signal from your body telling you to rest while it repairs itself. When your body is done repairing itself, your muscles will be bigger, stronger, and more effective.

If you don't listen to your body and instead insist on working out during the DOMS period, more tearing will occur in your as yet unrepaired muscle tissue. The result will be smaller, weaker muscles, the exact opposite of your goal. If you must work out during the DOMS period, do stretching or light cardiovascular activities.

DOMS will affect beginners more than experienced athletes. As you become more "conditioned" (ie, as your body gains experience at dealing with exercise), your body becomes more effective at fixing itself and your DOMS time will be shorter.

Here are some things that are NOT DOMS:

1. Lactic acid build up during a workout. This is often referred to by the descriptive term "muscle burn." During a strenuous workout, and in particular during anaerobic exercise like weightlifting, your muscles can become depleted of oxygen and will start generating energy anaerobically. This involves producing lactate (lactic acid). The subsequent increase in acidity causes the burning sensation and hinders further muscle activity as a defense mechanism to keep you from pushing your body too hard. The lactate and the pain goes away quickly when you rest and has nothing to do with the delayed onset of pain called DOMS (see http://www.scientificamer hy-does-lactic-acid-buil ).

2. Pain caused by structural damage to the body, such as a pulled tendon, strained ligament, torn rotator cuff, or broken bone. If you push yourself too far during a workout or do exercises incorrectly, you can cause serious harm to yourself. In the worst case, this damage will never fix itself or go away; for example, it's not hard to damage your lower back in ways that will cause you pain and stiffness FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Be extremely careful about damaging your body in this manner during exercise. Microtears in your muscles are the goal, everything else is bad.
by Holly D
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