Why Do My Muscles Tighten After A Workout?

It has happened to all of us: You complete a particularly strenuous workout, feeling exhilarated at your gains. Within a few hours, you start to experience cramping and soreness. Why did this happen? Everything seemed fine when you left the gym! In some cases, post-workout soreness can manifest itself the following day, or even several days later.

In this article, we will give you a full explanation of this phenomenon. Once you understand the cause of this problem, we can talk about some of the solutions. For a start, you will need to know that there are two types of post-workout soreness: Acute muscle soreness and delayed-onset muscle soreness.

What Is Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness?

This phenomenon is pretty self-explanatory. It is a feeling of intense muscular soreness that can happen as long as 72 hours after the exertion that triggered the event. Although the evidence is not totally conclusive, it is believed that this type of soreness results from a muscle strain that occurs during the eccentric motion.

For those who may not know, the eccentric motion is usually the latter half of a given exercise. For instance, if you are doing a bench press, the lowering of the bar would be the eccentric motion. If you are one of those people who like to go really slow on the eccentric in hopes of obtaining greater muscle growth, don’t be surprised if you get a little bit of DOMS as payment for your efforts.

What Is Acute Muscle Soreness?

Non-delayed muscle soreness is a natural consequence of hard exercise and results from micro-tearing of the muscle fibers. The term “acute” just means that it happens immediately. The good thing about this kind of soreness is the fact that it doesn’t tend to last nearly as long.

Causes Of DOMS

Unlike acute muscle soreness, DOMS is not caused by muscle tearing. This condition is caused by an inflammation in the area between the muscle fibers. Lactic acid and kinase production may each play a role in this process, but the evidence is not yet conclusive. By and large, the main cause is the release of inflammatory chemicals by the muscle fibers themselves.

This is a rare example in which the body causes pain to itself. While there is no way to know exactly why this happens, it is reasonable to assume that this a defense mechanism intended to keep us from exerting our bodies to the point at which they begin to break down.

It should be noted that no one fully understands the causes of muscle soreness, whether acute or delayed. However, many theories have been proposed and debated. For those of us who don’t get paid to do research, it is far better to concentrate on prevention.

How To Deal With Muscle Soreness

There are many things that can help alleviate the problem of muscle soreness, but we are going to concentrate on three of them in particular.


Although some have disputed the ability of stretching to prevent injury, there is no doubt that it works for the prevention of muscle soreness. For those who are new to physical training (whether it be weight lifting, martial arts, yoga, or anything else), a lack of proper stretching is one of the most common mistakes.

When you wake up in the morning, a comprehensive stretching routine should be the first thing you do. No matter what your day entails, you will certainly be using your muscles to some degree, so there is never a reason to refrain.

In this study, stretching was compared to several other warm-up methods (massage and light exercise). It was found to be superior in every way.

Avoidance Of Compound Exercises

If you are experiencing severe soreness, you may want to do more than incorporate a stretching routine. Until your body adjusts to this new level of activity, you might want to avoid compound exercises. There is evidence to show that compound exercise are a little bit harder on the body.

When we say “compound exercises,” we refer to exercises that use multiple joints and muscle groups. As you can see from the link above, these multi-functional exercises will normally result in longer recovery time and a greater degree of soreness.

Supplement with Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Amino acids are special proteins that your body uses to build and repair bodily tissue. As such, these compounds are especially important for those who want to build muscle. Although there are many amino acids, the branched-chain amino acids are a group of three: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. Their name is derived from their molecular structure, which isn’t really important for our purposes.

It makes a lot of sense to say that a dose of branched-chain amino acids can help to prevent muscle soreness when eaten directly after a workout. You are basically throwing your body a bag of bricks with which to rebuild what you have just torn down. This study tested BCAAs on a group of soccer players and found it to be effective in speeding recovery times and easing recovery symptoms.


Although muscle soreness is an inevitable part of the fitness game, you don’t have to take it lying down. There are other measures that can help to reduce soreness, such as the use of ice packs and cold temperatures in general. We hope that we have given you a good idea of why this happens and what you can do about it. Please follow us on our Facebook page, where you can find all sorts of informative content like this.

The post Why Do My Muscles Tighten After A Workout? appeared first on Gaspari Nutrition.

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