Sore muscles after running – what to do when your muscles are sore?

Sore muscles after running or strength training – every athlete knows them. Nasty pain especially when walking, climbing stairs or even sitting down. But is a sore muscle dangerous? How do you prevent the pain after running or weight training?? And what can you do if it does get you??

Ah. Ouch. Oah. You’re on your way to the grocery store. No big deal. Actually. If it weren’t for the stairs between you and your car. You have to take it down. One thing you never think about otherwise. Today it is different. Today every single step hurts.

With a grimace on your face, you stumble down the stairs, climbing step by step. Your legs are stiff. And every movement sends a crazy pain through your body. You arrive at the bottom half laughing and half crying. Wow, what a sore muscle you have ..

Yesterday you ran your first half marathon and in addition to pride, a beautiful medal, and exhilarating feelings of happiness, you also gained a fat sore muscle. But why actually? You were actually just running! You’ve been doing it for ages. And you have trained properly. Even on schedule.

Table of contents

  • The muscle ache – funny name for nasty pain
  • What exactly is a sore muscle?
  • Why does a sore muscle hurt so much?
  • The muscle soreness – as long as you have to suffer
  • Sore muscles from running – when it can happen?
  • The muscle soreness – good for muscle building?
  • Is sore muscles dangerous?
  • Should you go to the doctor if you have sore muscles??
  • Is running a good idea despite sore muscles?
  • How to prevent sore muscles?
  • Does magnesium help against sore muscles?
  • What is the best remedy for sore muscles?
  • Sleep is the best medicine
  • Healing warmth is also an insider tip for sore muscles
  • Muscles need fluids – drinking is the be-all and end-all in sport
  • Muscles love protein

The sore muscle – Funny name for nasty pain

Have you ever wondered where the name comes from?? The muscle ache has nothing to do with a cat. But rather with a little mouse:

The Latin term musculus means "little mouse".

When you tense your arm, it looks like there is a little mouse under the skin.

So there we have already clarified the origin of the word "muscle. The word "hangover", on the other hand, could be derived from the Greek word "catarrh". And that means something like inflammation or pain. But it is also possible that the term comes from the Middle Ages.

At that time, there was a beer called "hangover". If someone had drunk too much of it, he got a headache the next day. Having a "hangover. And if someone does too much sport, then he gets a sore muscle.

What exactly is a sore muscle?

Surprisingly, the causes of muscle soreness are still not conclusively understood. In the past it was assumed that the muscle was overacidified by lactic acid (lactates). However, this hypothesis has been proven wrong. And this is for the following reasons:

High lactate values are measured especially during activities that take place in the anaerobic range. This is the case, for example, during 400-meter runs.

Endurance runners train these areas during tempo runs or when running intervals. The body has to provide the energy it needs without the use of oxygen. As a by-product, more lactate is produced than the body can quickly break down. Lactate is also known as lactic acid.

And yet, muscle soreness does not occur during these runs at high speed. This happens much more often with strength training. However, much less lactate is formed. In addition, the body breaks down the lactate after about 20 minutes. But you don’t notice a sore muscle until many hours later.

Currently, science assumes that overload causes small tears in the muscles. These are also called microtrauma. Exactly these cracks develop in the Z-disks in the muscle tissue. These are boundaries within muscle cells. Water penetrates the cells through the cracks. Inflammation occurs and the muscle swells up.

That does not hurt yet. Because there are no receptors for pain inside the muscle fibers. So that’s why you don’t have any pain after an intense sports session. But you often already suspect that you can look forward to a proper muscle soreness.

Why does the muscle soreness hurt so much?

It starts after 12 to 24 hours. Your body begins to flush out inflammatory substances. These were formed by the small cracks. Only when these inflammatory substances come into contact with the surrounding nerve cells does the alarm sound.

Your nerve cells now send signals to your brain. Attention, something is wrong here. There is a problem. Only now you feel the pain.

The more small tears you have in your muscles, the greater the pain response, and the longer it takes to heal. And why the pain? Quite simply, your body is protecting itself from further strain.

After the strenuous session, it needs a lot of energy and time to heal the small injuries. And as soon as you have inflammation in your body, your body sends pain signals. It prescribes itself a rest break, so to speak. It doesn’t matter if you have a severe injury or a small muscle tear.

Injured is injured and the healing is now the most important task of your body.

The muscle soreness – as long as you have to suffer

Sore muscles can cause you pain for up to 10 days. However, the most severe symptoms subside after the third day.

Most of the time, the most severe soreness occurs on the second day after exercise. But it can also take a week if you get it really bad.

Muscle soreness from running – when can it happen?

You get muscle soreness mainly during unaccustomed strength exercises. But it can also happen quickly during running.

As a beginner, simply the unaccustomed load is to blame. Especially if you increase your distances too fast. Or when you run at too high a speed.

Then your muscles, tendons and ligaments are simply not yet able to absorb the shocks of the impact.

However, even experienced runners are not safe from the hangover. For example, if you’ve only ever run straight, flat routes, a hilly run in the woods can cause sore muscles, because it’s mainly when you’re running downhill that the small muscle tears occur.

Even if you run an unusually fast pace, it can come to the painful tears. Here the stronger impact is the cause.

The muscle soreness – good for muscle building?

Now you might assume that sore muscles are good for muscle building. But unfortunately this is wrong.

Sore muscles after training rather show that your training was too hard. However, the muscle soreness also shows you where your weak points are.

Once the pain has subsided, you can strengthen your muscles with some moderate training.

Is muscle soreness dangerous?

No. Sore muscles tell you that your workout was too hard, but if your soreness is still there after ten days. But it is not dangerous.

Provided you listen to your body now. Because if you force yourself to train again despite severe pain, the small muscle tears can become larger.

Then it could come in the worst case also to a scarring of the tissue.

Mostly, however, the pain is so strong that you voluntarily give up a too heavy training.

Should you go to the doctor in case of a sore muscle?

As we said, a sore muscle is not dangerous in itself, but a natural reaction to too much stress on your muscles.

As long as your pain is still bearable, you really don’t need to go to a doctor.

If it hurts really bad, it can be helpful to take medication with the active ingredient ibuprofen. These have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect.

In no case should this be the rule for your training, but only an exception in case of hardship.

But if your pain is still not better after ten days, you should definitely go to the doctor. Then a serious cause such as a torn muscle fiber could be behind your "muscle ache".

Is running a good idea despite sore muscles?

With a not so painful sore muscles you can train without worrying. But in this case, make a light sports program.

But you can also consider going for a walk. Or you turn a relaxed round with the wheel.

Nordic walking or swimming are also super alternative workouts. you train and load other muscles and still remain active.

But if the pain is really severe, then really give yourself a break. Working out with a lot of pain is no fun at all. You also tend to achieve the opposite.

Sore muscles after running - Why sore muscles develop and what you can best do about it

By trying to avoid the pain, you make unconscious evasive movements. An injury can then very quickly be the result.

Your body is busy healing at the moment. Give it the rest it needs.

How can you prevent sore muscles?

  • Warm up thoroughly

Even if most runners prefer to just start running: a thorough warm-up helps prevent injuries. Warming up increases the blood supply to your muscles. It makes you more efficient and overuse doesn’t happen as quickly. Your muscles are at operating temperature. The best prerequisite for optimal training.

Sore muscles are especially dangerous if you run too fast. As a beginner runner, you should therefore increase your running distances and pace carefully. You shouldn’t increase your weekly running volume more than 10% of the total.

Does magnesium help against muscle soreness?

If you have a magnesium deficiency, this can manifest itself in the form of cramps.

Then you can start thinking about taking magnesium supplements.

It’s even better if you get the mineral back through food. For that nature provides you with so many things.

Here are some foods that bring a good portion of magnesium:

  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grain bread
  • Natural rice
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Potatoes
  • Sunflower seeds

However, science has not yet been able to confirm that taking magnesium as a preventive measure helps against sore muscles.

What helps best with sore muscles?

Now it has happened. Despite all precautions you will have a decent muscle soreness. What can you do now to get rid of the nasty pain more quickly??

Many things that help your body now, you would probably do intuitively. If you listen to your body, you will feel what it needs most urgently now.

Sleep is the best medicine

Sleeping is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your body. When you are sick, all you want to do is sleep. Because sleeping is the best way for your body to recover.

This also applies to sore muscles. Here sleep is even one of the most effective weapons you have.

Therefore, make sure you get a good night’s rest, especially after a strenuous workout. As a rule, this should be at least eight hours. This might protect you from too much muscle soreness in advance.

When you sleep, your body shuts down all functions to a minimum. And can therefore put all the energy into repairing your muscles. For example, I love to take a midday nap after a hard run. Try that too. It is simply wonderful.

Healing heat is also an insider tip for sore muscles

Heat is a wonderful remedy for sore muscles. For fast healing it is beneficial to keep the muscles well supplied with blood. A warm full bath supports the regeneration optimally. If you also add a bath additive with substances that promote circulation, your healing bath is perfect.

What a relief when you let your aching muscles slide into the warm, fragrant bath water. You will feel the relaxation in a moment. This is not only really good for you, but also helps with the healing process.

Many athletes also rely on the effect of ointments that increase blood flow through heat. The strength of the heat development is very different depending on the product. The best thing is to try out which one you find pleasant. In addition to heat, give your muscles a light massage. This can also promote healing.

Or you can treat yourself to a visit to the sauna. Your whole body is properly warmed up and blood circulation is stimulated.

Muscles need fluids – drinking is the be-all and end-all of sports

It is very important to drink enough fluids to recover quickly after a hard workout.

Your muscles are 80% muscle. To regenerate well, you must always be sufficiently hydrated. Drink therefore already before your sport units sufficiently. Water rich in sodium or fruit juice spritzers are ideal.

But also during the training you should drink if possible. Whereby it depends here on the length of the training. You don’t necessarily have to drink under an hour. Therefore it is very important to replace the lost fluids quickly after the workout.

Isotonic drinks such as fruit juice spritzers are ideal because they also contain valuable minerals and trace elements. But also a non-alcoholic beer or a Radler are well suitable. Reward yourself for your hard workout and do your muscles a favor too.

Muscles love protein

Your body needs a lot of protein to build muscles. The same applies to the repair of muscle tears.

Legumes, curd or cheese are the right choice after a hard workout and help your body to build up muscles.

Sore muscles after running - Why sore muscles develop and what you can best do about them

It is best to eat a small protein snack in the first half hour after a hard workout. This can also be a protein bar. Of course, animal foods such as meat, eggs and dairy products contain a lot of protein.

But even as a vegan or vegetarian you can cover your protein needs with tofu, legumes or vegetables such as broccoli well and sufficiently.

Conclusion: The muscle soreness – painful, but harmless

One thing is clear: every athlete knows this pain. Even endurance professionals and seasoned strength athletes are not safe from it.

However, with training experience and regular training, the risk of muscle soreness decreases.

Already when preparing for your run you can do a lot to stay away from the pain.

But you now know a lot of home remedies to make the pain bearable. And to heal faster.

But a sore muscle shows you one thing in any case: your workout was too hard. Therefore, take it a little easier next time.

Then the hangover does not show up again so quickly.

About the author of this article

Sore muscles after running - what to do when your muscles are sore?

I am Andrea, runner with passion and blogger with heart and humor. Running is for me the most beautiful sport in the world. I would like to show you how versatile and varied running is.

On my blog running buddy, I write about everything that makes us runners tick. Running is not a deadly serious thing, but the key to a happy and healthy life.

Just have a look. I look forward to seeing you. Or follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest. But get your running shoes ready beforehand, because afterwards it’s "let’s go for a run".

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