Delayed Soreness or Gratification? - FIT Human Performance

Delayed Soreness or Gratification?


FITWorkingApril 7, 2013

For those of you who have had the opportunity to train with me, there is a fairly good chance you might have experienced a sore muscle or two.    The soreness comes from microscopic tears in the muscle which occur in all modes of exercise. With time and frequency the body adapts and becomes efficient at those movements, thus the training creates fewer tears and therefore less soreness.  If the soreness feels good or is gratifying, the moves must be constantly changed or the intensity increased to continue to be effective.  

For years, lactic acid (the waste product of burned fuel in the muscles) produced when exercising was blamed as being responsible for post-workout soreness.   There is some truth to that claim, but the lactic acid actually begins to diminish within 30 to 90 minutes after you have finished your workout.  The true soreness you feel a few days after a work out is from tiny microscopic tears in muscles, known as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.  Don’t freak out, your body is amazing and repairs the tears.  For soreness that is prolonged, more than a week, a visit to the Doctor is suggested.  

If you are sore in a muscle it is your body, or endocrine system, informing you that the muscle needs more rest.  If you do not listen and use those muscles again too soon … it is kind of like peeling off a scab, and the soreness is prolonged.  One reason why with leg workouts the DOMS last longer, because you keep using them to move around.  Unless, of course you are walking on your hands.  Give yourself a break after challenging workouts; rest those muscles for 48 hours

Soreness or Pain, which is it?   It is important to pinpoint whether you are feeling soreness or pain.  Pain in the joints may indicate injury, while sore muscles may be nothing more than stiffness or soreness.   DOMS is almost expected, especially if you are trying new activities or an increased intensity of moves you are familiar with.  DOMS is a normal and necessary part of becoming more fit, joint pain is not. 

In good health,


Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them. – Lee Haney