If you exercise, you’ve likely had post workout muscle soreness before. But did you know that you can do the same workout as someone else, but present with entirely different post-workout experiences? Maybe they can barely walk up the stairs while you don’t even struggle the next day. Your first thought may be that you didn’t push yourself hard enough or that it’s simply a matter of who’s in better shape. However, it’s important to note that post-workout soreness is different for everyone.
Delayed onset muscle soreness(DOMS), creates micro-tears in the muscles, which occurs when you put stress on them. This causes soreness about 24 to 48 hours after the workout. The soreness comes from your body producing inflammation. Once the micro-tears repair, you’re stronger, but technically you’ve “injured” the muscle to gain strength. It’s a natural part of the strengthening and recovery process. So, what determines the amount of DOMS you experience from a workout, and why the soreness may be different? A few things.
1. How often you work out
When you haven’t worked out for awhile, you’re more likely to become sore after a workout. Your muscles will eventually adapt to consistent physical activity, reducing the amount of DOMS over time. The same can be said for working out too much. Pushing your body beyond a certain threshold can cause you to experience DOMS more significantly.
All bodies are different so your training sweet spot might be very different from others. Don’t try to match up with someone else. Their body isn’t yours. There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to developing the right workout for each person.
2. The type of exercise you do
Exercise creates micro-tears in your muscles. This is perfectly normal and is actually an important part of strengthening and conditioning. Soreness is often determined by the type of exercise you’re doing. Eccentric movements (when the muscle lengthens) causes more muscle damage than concentric movement (when the muscle shortens).
For example, the downward motion of a squat, the lowering of a shoulder press, lowering the body during a crunch; all of these are eccentric movements. They’re part of any kind of workout, and actually quite beneficial to strengthening, but the higher the intensity and concentration on these particular movements, the more soreness you might feel later.
3. Hormone levels
Did you know that estrogen helps decrease inflammation? That means women with higher levels of estrogen tend to have less muscle soreness than those with lower levels of estrogen. This varies with monthly cycles, hormone replacement, and life stages. Don’t be surprised if the same workout suddenly causes you more or less DOMS at different times.
This is far from an exhaustive list, but just with these few examples you can see that your soreness really does depend on several factors. Start being a little easier on yourself when comparing your body to others’. Just because you have a different level of soreness after a workout doesn’t mean you’re more out-of-shape, did an exercise wrong, or didn’t push yourself enough. Everyone’s body is different which means different levels of DOMS for each of us. Keep moving!
If you’re new to working out or love to push yourself at the gym, and you’re feeling sore schedule a full body massage to speed up your recovery!