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Muscle Soreness and Growth

Are Your Sore Muscles Really Growing?

There doesn't exist such a thing as a sure measure of quality for a workout. Deciding whether it was an effective exercise still depends largely on gauging long-term results and checking if you get stronger. However, individual workouts can cause your muscles to get sore. After a workout, the pain and stiffness in your muscles starts to increase. This soreness increases between twenty-four to forty-eight hours after a workout. This is also called DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

After this, the pain and stiffness will usually reduce gradually with muscle recovery and disappear in about six to seven days.

The Beginning

In the beginning, when you start going to the gym, you can easily make out, that if you're surpassing your best count in terms of reps for your regular workouts then you are certainly making progress. However, once your body matures over the years, in terms of muscle build, you don't always look to push higher and higher on your workouts. The soreness of muscles, which is usually used to determine the effectiveness of a workout initially, may not apply to you anymore.

Sometimes this may end up negatively impacting your morale as you may wrongly interpret this to mean that your muscles have stopped growing. Also, people resort to extreme ways to keep the soreness coming back, but is this desirable? Do you still need DOMS to determine the effectiveness of your exercise? For a plausible explanation, we need to examine the causes of DOMS. The most important thing to understand is that DOMS occur only as a result due to the intensity of a workout that your muscles have never faced before. Since your tissues are unaccustomed to such intensity, it causes tiny microscopic ruptures in your muscles. This is followed by an inflow of immune cells and secretion of myokines which results in the sensitization of nerves inside the tissue. These changes cause the dull pain in these tissues even days after the workout.

This process shows a supposed correlation between muscles damage and the DOMS we experience. However, examination of soreness of muscles has shown that muscle damage is barely connected with what we experience as DOMS. Therefore the assumption that if your muscles are sore then you have caused muscle damage that leads to growth, is fundamentally flawed.

Muscle Soreness Conclusion

This may lead you to conclude that even though there appears to be a loose connection between muscle micro-damage and growth, it is certainly not a requirement. There are much more complex processes that involve the activation of satellite cells, which actually result in growth of muscles. The micro-damage of cells is not necessary for the activation of mechanotransductive anabolic pathways which are known to be activated by loads that cause muscle damage, as metabolic stress can also cause this activation.

Therefore DOMS is not a sure sign of muscle damage that leads to the growth of muscles. However, muscle damage is also not a necessary condition for the growth of muscles and is demonstrated above. This answers our doubts about DOMS and clarifies the fact that you do not need to force yourself to achieve DOMS in order to obtain growth. A sure way to increase the size of your muscles is, however, a different story.

About The Author

Having spent many years reading about different training techniques and practising different exercises in the gym, Kevin Hodges decided it was time to share some of the knowledge he'd learnt and created websites like and to share wisdom on training exercises, dietary tips and general health information.

If you're interested to read more, why not checkout one if his articles like Best Steroids For Bulking where he reviews the best safe steroid alternatives to help you hit your lean muscle mass goals.

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The material herein is intended for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional.  Statements about the use of any products referred to herein have not been evaluated by the FDA, nor are these products intended to prevent or treat any disease.