How Long Should I Feel Sore Post-Exercise?

What you need to know about soreness and why it’s different than pain

We all know that achieving anything takes effort, and when it comes to fitness, this can often be grueling. To reach weight loss goals or just getting in better shape, there’s no easy road to take; you have to put in the work. And one sign that you’re on the right track is if, after a particularly strenuous workout, you feel sore. But why is that exactly and how do you know you may have overdone it?

Why we get sore after working out

There are a couple of reasons why we may get sore after a workout. If you’re starting an exercise program for the first time – or perhaps it’s been a while – naturally, your body won’t be used to this type of activity, and you’ll certainly feel it. And if your goal is to build up muscle mass, you actually have to break down your muscles and the surrounding tissue first. Doing this through weight training helps muscle cells to get bigger and stronger as they repair themselves.

How long should soreness last?

After a workout, you may not actually feel too sore right away; generally, this comes on about a day or two later, which is why it’s referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness. This should go away after about three or four days. If your workout was particularly rigorous, this could be a little longer.

Soreness vs. pain

The important thing to remember is that soreness from working out is normal. Pain, however, isn’t. Instead of feeling tender and tired afterward and you’re really hurting, you overdid it. You may want to live by the “no pain, no gain” mantra, but this isn’t the best way to get in shape.

“There’s some research showing that the muscles can actually atrophy when they get that sore – it’s almost like the muscle was overworked, and it can’t repair itself adequately,” says exercise physiologist Joel Seedman.

Signs your soreness is really pain

Sometimes pain and soreness can be confused for one another, but if you notice any of these things, you need to take it easy or reassess your workout routine.

  1. Irritated tendons. If they experience too much stress, the tendons that link muscle to bone can become swollen or inflamed. This can lead to tendonitis, which makes simple activities like climbing stairs very painful.
  2. Aching Bones. Some stress is good for bones; an effective workout adds more mass, which strengthens the bone. However, if there is excessive stress or it’s too fast, in addition to discomfort, this can result in a stress fracture.
  3. Swollen cartilage. Cartilage is something else that can be hurt if you overdo your workouts. When it is stressed too much, this can cause pain and swelling in the joint.

How to ease your soreness

There are a variety of things you can do to relieve your soreness, including:

  1. Staying active. The last you may want to do when feeling sore is move, but staying sedentary will do more harm than good. Doing some simple activities – like walking or using a stationary bike – will help keep the blood flowing, leading to faster recovery time.
  2. Eating and drinking properly. A crucial component for building and maintaining muscle is protein, and it also helps the body recover from rigorous exercise. This is why protein-rich foods should be part of a daily diet. Water also plays an important role both during a workout and afterward, as it helps flush out toxins and waste products.
  3. Trying heat or ice. Heat is often helpful for improving circulation, while ice can help reduce swelling, and often a good way to alleviate soreness is to slip into a hot bath or reach for a cold compress. Another effective tactic is to use CopperGel, which provides cooling relief to aching joints and muscles. Plus, it’s long-lasting and works quickly.

CopperGel is clinically proven to relieve joint, muscle, and arthritis pain. Plus, this roll-on lets you focus on just the areas that hurt. Questions or concerns? Please get in touch. You can send an email to or just fill out our online contact form.

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