How muscle soreness relates to muscle strength and size

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I’m sure most of us can remember the feeling the days after our first hard session in the gym or after starting a new training routine. The soreness that can be felt doing the simplest of tasks from putting on a jacket to climbing a flight of stairs can be excruciating. For some people, they get a constant need to chase this feeling and do not feel like they have had a good workout unless they get some sort of soreness. In this article I will discuss why this may or may not be the whole truth and the role muscle soreness has in gaining muscle size and strength.

The soreness you sometimes feel in the next days after your workout is known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Although it is still unclear as to what the exact cause of DOMS is, it appears it is the result of microscopic tears to the muscle which sensitise the pain receptors and causes the feeling of pain. Most exercise can cause DOMS but exercise with a greater emphasis on the eccentric contraction of a muscle (the lengthening phase) will cause more muscle soreness.

Muscle damage is one of the contributors to muscle growth and muscle soreness can be a sign of muscle damage. So although muscle soreness may not be necessary for muscle growth, it can be an indicator that you are causing muscle damage and therefore putting yourself in a good position to gain muscle. How sore you feel, however, does not necessarily mean there is more muscle damage. Therefore, just because one individual feels more soreness than another, they have not necessarily caused more damage to the muscle and even if they had, they may not necessarily gain more muscle as there are other key contributors to muscle growth in regards to training.

Although some muscle soreness may be a sign that you are causing beneficial damage to the muscle, too much soreness can cause some issues. One is that DOMS can have a negative effect on performance. DOMS can lead to a decrease in the maximal strength and range of motion of a muscle. So if you are getting DOMS to the point that it is affecting your next session or next couple of sessions then it is probably not a good thing.

So yes, there is some relation between muscle soreness and muscle growth however it is not a sure indicator of a successful workout. You can have a successful, muscle building workout without feeling any soreness and if your DOMS are so severe after a workout that you can hardly walk then it may actually be counterproductive.

Speak to you guys again soon.



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