After I exercise, my muscles are usually sore a couple of day afterwards... What causes this, and is it a "good" pain? If I don't feel anything, does that mean that I didn't work hard enough?

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (or DOMS) can occur with novice exercisers as well as trained athletes and is commonly associated with the build up of lactic acid in the muscles, muscle spasm, connective tissue damage, muscle damage and/or inflammation. It is typically seen when a person has increased some variable of their exercise routine, intensity, duration or frequency of their workouts. Whether you are talking about cardiovascular or strength training workouts, it is important to enter in to your routine slowly and gradually. I usually tell my clients to increase one variable at a time and no more than 10% per week.

As for it being a “good” pain, I personally, don’t think there is “good” pain. I think pain is a sign that you need to slow down and re-evaluate what you are doing. To have the “feeling” that you have worked your muscles can be very invigorating and will reinforce your enthusiasm for exercise, but it is important to make sure that you are engaging in a well-balanced program that will not cause injury in the long term.

There is still a lot that we don’t know about DOMS, but what is clear is that exercise is the most effective means of alleviating pain during DOMS, however the analgesic effect is temporary. The best way to deal with DOMS is to warm up properly before beginning your workout, stretch before and after your workout and cool down properly at the end.

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