Why are my muscles sore days after a workout? Did I injure something?
At Medical Exercise Trainers, our work with post-rehab and de-conditioned clients has shown us that the mental and physical transition into long term fitness can be tough. Confusing "muscle soreness" with "pain" can make the mental focus even harder. This confusion has led many clients to be concerned and ask, "Why are my muscles sore days after a workout?"..."Did I injure something?"
Muscles can become sore after a workout due to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (D.O.M.S.) . Hypertrophy (muscle growth) isn't a process that happens during exercise. Muscle hypertrophy and strengthening follows exercise and recuperation. After loading the muscles during a workout, your muscles start to adapt to the applied stress of the workout. The soreness you are feeling after the workout is the rebuilding of the muscle fiber micro-tears you accumulated.
Usually, D.O.M.S. can last 1-2 days before you start to feel the "soreness". D.O.M.S. can even last a few days after the soreness starts. The degree of soreness can be attributed to many factors such as newly introduced exercises, being de-conditioned, changes in loading, and intensity.
Don't give up or be alarmed if you get sore after workouts. Eventually, the soreness will go away. There are a few "red flags" you can go by to help you differentiate between "soreness" and "pain" that needs medical attention. Some of these "red flags" include:
Loss of range of motion
Radiating pain down the limbs
Swelling of the joint; and
Deep joint pain
Make sure you get plenty of rest after workouts and proper nutrition to help the healing process. If "red flags" do occur, contact your medical professional. Keep persevering in your workout programs and you will achieve your goals but, don't let D.O.M.S. get you down.