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Quick Dose: Is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Real?

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You worked out on Monday, but two days later, you start feeling the burn in your abs and it hurts to walk. No pain, no gain, right?

It’s normal to experience these muscular aches and pains, especially if you’re overloading a certain set of muscles or starting a new exercise routine after not being physically active for a while. And, it’s more likely to occur when you’re doing exercises that lengthen the muscle, such as bicep curls, squats or running downhill.

Don’t let this pain turn you off from exercise. Take this as a sign that you’ve adequately worked out and you’re on your way to achieving the results you want.

Be careful not to overdo it because that’s when injuries occur. Start your workouts with dynamic stretching like easy hopping, skipping or swinging your arms to warm-up and gradually increase your heart rate. Your workout should end with a 10-minute cool down consisting of stretches that you hold in place. Plan to alternate days between intense workouts and lighter exercises.

Prolonged or severe muscle soreness should be checked by a sports medicine specialist.

Steven E. Mayer, MD, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist,
Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group Orthopaedics

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