Why Muscles Get Sore

by | Feb 7, 2021 | Training

As we age many of us begin to complain more of pains in our muscles and joints. They seem to stiffen up with age, and such commonplace activities as bending over for the morning paper can make us wince.

Such pain can grip so fiercely that we are sure it begins deep in their bones. But the real cause of stiffness and soreness lies not in the joints or bones, according to research at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, but in the muscles and connective tissues that move the joints.

The frictional resistance generated by the two rubbing surfaces of bones in the joints is negligible, even in joints damaged by arthritis.

Flexibility is the medical term used to describe the range of a joint’s motion from full movement in one direction to full movement in the other. The greater the range of movement, the more flexible the joint.

If you bend forward at the hips and touch your toes with your fingertips, you have good flexibility, or range of motion of the hip joints. But can you bend over easily with a minimal expenditure of energy and force? The exertion required to flex a joint is just as important as its range of possible motion.

Different factors limit the flexibility and ease of movement in different joints and muscles. In the elbow and knee, the bony structure itself sets a definite limit. In other joints, such as the ankle, hip, and back, the soft tissue—muscle and connective tissue—limit the motion range.

The problem of inflexible joints and muscles is similar to the difficulty of opening and closing a gate because of a rarely used and rusty hinge that has become stiff.

Hence, if people do not regularly move their muscles and joints through their full ranges of motion, they lose some of their potential. That is why when these people will try to move a joint after a long period of inactivity, they feel pain, and that discourages further use

What happens next is that the muscles become shortened with prolonged disuse and produces spasms and cramps that can be irritating and extremely painful. The immobilization of muscles, as researchers have demonstrated with laboratory animals, brings about biochemical changes in the tissue.

3 key reasons that lead to sore muscles:

1. Too much exercise

Have you always believed on the saying, “No pain, no gain?” If you do, then, it is not so surprising if you have already experienced sore muscles.

The problem with most people is that they exercise too much thinking that it is the fastest and the surest way to lose weight. Until they ache, they tend to ignore their muscles and connective tissue, even though they are what quite literally holds the body together.

2. Aging and inactivity

Connective tissue binds muscle to bone by tendons, binds bone to bone by ligaments, and covers and unites muscles with sheaths called fasciae. With age, the tendons, ligaments, and fasciae become less extensible. The tendons, with their densely packed fibers, are the most difficult to stretch. The easiest are the fasciae. But if they are not stretched to improve joint mobility, the fasciae shorten, placing undue pressure on the nerve pathways in the muscle fasciae. Many aches and pains are the result of nerve impulses traveling along these pressured pathways.

3. Immobility

Sore muscles or muscle pain can be excruciating, owing to the body’s reaction to a cramp or ache. In this reaction, called the splinting reflex, the body automatically immobilizes a sore muscle by making it contract. Thus, a sore muscle can set off a vicious cycle pain.

First, an unused muscle becomes sore from exercise or being held in an unusual position. The body then responds with the splinting reflex, shortening the connective tissue around the muscle. This causes more pain, and eventually, the whole area is aching. One of the most common sites for this problem is the lower back.

5 Simple remedies for sore muscles:

  • Water – drink it and bathe in it. Critical to feeling healthy is drinking plenty of water, you should be aiming to drink up to 2 litres of water a day and especially when you are post-workout and suffering from sore muscles. Need help drinking more water click here. Bathing in either a hot (the easy way) or a cold (the athlete’s way) bath can also rapidly ease soreness in your muscles.
  • Active Recovery – Active Recovery involves performing low-intensity exercise following a strenuous workout. Examples include walking, swimming and cycling. Active recovery typically has greater efficacy than inactivity, resting or being sedentary. It keeps your blood flowing and helps muscles recover and rebuild post your intensive physical activity. Read more about Active Recovery here.
  • Topical Deep Heat treatments – products like Voltaren Heat Rub are great to help relieve both sore muscles and aching joints. Talk to your pharmacist or health professional about which one might be best for your need.
  • Supplements – supplements such as Selinium or Magnesium can help in both the relief of sore muscles and also in the prevention of them getting sore in the first place. Again, talk to your pharmacist or health professional about which one might be best for your need.
  • Massage – a good massage by a trained professional is also a sure-fire way to relieve sore muscles.


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