pain after exercise

Why does it hurt after I exercise?

Written by: Emma Anius

We’ve all experienced the dreaded next day pain after a good exercise session, the pain that makes you promise yourself you wont exercise again.  For those who are new to exercise this is a normal response that your body produces when it goes through an unusual exertion.  It is part of an adaptation process that leads to improvements in performance, greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover and build.

Have you ever wondered why the pain occurs?  It is thought to be the result of microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers.  The amount of tearing that occurs is dependent on the length of time you exercise, how hard you work out and the type of exercise you do.  Although the pain occurs after any intense workout, studies have shown that there is a particular type of movement that produces the most pain the day after.

When you do eccentric movements, which are actions that cause muscle to forcefully contract while it lengthens, have been shown to cause the most soreness.  The pain can range form a mild discomfort to excruciating pain so if you feel it getting worse there is no need to panic- its your body’s natural response to exercise and is perfectly normal.

The soreness tends to occur 24 – 48 hours following an intense workout and last several days after.  Unfortunately this is something you will have to get used to, as this feeling doesn’t go away with experience, but the pain does affect you less the more athletic you become.  So for those just starting a new training routine you have something to look forward to.

Fortunately there are certain things you can do to help calm the severity of the soreness.  Warming up is an important part of any workout, it helps decrease the chances of becoming injured and is also said to help prevent the next day burn, as does stretching after your workout.  Did your parents ever tell you to eat your vitamins as you were growing up?  Well now you have good reason too- vitamin C helps repair connective tissue which could potentially help heal the ripped tissue quicker and shorten the amount of time the soreness lasts.

If you wake up in the morning and the discomfort is so bad that when you try to get up and walk around your whole body aches.  The only thing you want to do is just lay there and rest. But doing nothing is probably the worst thing for you, any form of activity you engage in will get your blood pumping and help loosen you up.  Although you should wait a couple days after the initial soreness before you decide to get out there and restart your intense workout. Your muscles need at least 48 to 72 hours to recover from the previous exercise before you should put a heavy stress on them again.  This pain should never happen while exercising so if you are exercising and experiencing some form of pain you shouldn’t continue as you can seriously hurt your recovery process.

Looking after your body is the key to healthy living.

If you have no time to exercise or don’t know where to begin:


Side lunge x 10, squat thrusts x 15, plank x 30 sec, push ups x 10, side raise x 10


Side lunge x 15, squat thrusts x 25, plank x 60 sec, push ups x 20, side raise x 20

  • For help with the exercises go to and view the photos or come down to the Aquatics Centre Monday and Wednesday for the ‘Ultimate Carnival Workout’


Note: Emma Anius is a Personal Trainer for Cyan Fitness promoting a ‘healthy life and a better you.’



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