Why Does Muscle Soreness Hurt So Good?
There is a chemical called dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in pleasure and happiness, that is released when we exercise (7). This reaction may play a part in astigmatism that many think muscle soreness is correlated with a good workout or muscle growth. While being sore might feel oddly satisfying, it is not a reliable sign that there has been stimulated muscle growth. Likewise, the fact that you’re not sore doesn’t mean your muscles aren’t growing (5).
What Causes Muscles To Be Sore?
The soreness you feel from working out is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is a minor muscle strain that occurs when we engage in a new or high-intensity activity (9). DOMS can adversely affect performance. The symptoms of dull pain and muscle stiffness can last 5-7 days (2).
We often wear our muscle soreness as a badge of honor, and many people workout to become sore. There is a connotation that if we are not sore the next day, we did not train hard enough in our workout. Feeling muscle soreness is normal 24 hours to 3 days after exercise, especially if you worked a new muscle group. However, just because you don’t feel sore the next day, doesn’t mean you didn’t get a good workout in.
You should workout to feel the same the next day or feel no soreness. In other words, think of it is as returning to a “baseline,” so you can push harder the next day. As you continue to workout, your baseline will continue to rise over time. You may feel the “same,” but you will notice an increase in strength, a PR, etc.
Being Sore Doesn’t Mean Better Results
When we exercise, our muscle fibers are being broken down, causing inflammation and swelling in the muscle (1). This breakdown includes the physical separation of the fibers that comprise the muscle structure (4). This breakdown results in DOMS.
There is some evidence that DOMS may negatively affect workouts by altering motor patterns in subsequent workouts. If your legs are sore, you may not be able to squat and activate certain desired leg muscles. Meaning, DOMS could hinder your next workout or training session. Additionally, severe DOMS can decrease force capacity, which may impair training at a certain level, which could hinder muscle growth in the long run (10).
On a positive note, exercising while having DOMS does not seem to make muscle damage worse. However, it may interfere with the muscle recovery process. In extreme cases, you have the potential to cause severe exercise-induced muscle damage that could to rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition that can lead to renal failure (10).
What You Need To Replenish Muscles
Although it seems like we should avoid tearing our muscle fibers, Muscle Protein Breakdown is not so bad as long as you give your muscles what they need. Muscle Protein Breakdown allows damaged muscle proteins to break down into amino acids and recycle most of them into new functional muscle proteins again (6). In other words, muscle protein breakdown is part of building muscle.
Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) is the process that affects the repair and growth of your muscles. MPS is the process in which protein is produced to build up and grow the existing and previously damaged muscle fibers (4). It is worth noting that repairing muscle damaged by exercise is essential for exercise recovery and muscle building. For MPS and muscle growth to occur, the muscle must have an exercise-induced micro-injury (your workout). Then, there needs to be sufficient protein or, more specifically, amino acids (3) to replenish your muscles.
In short, if you’re breaking your muscle down, for you to get the results you want, you need to build them back up. The best way to do this is with amino acids and rest.
Amino Acids Reduce Muscle Soreness
Amino acids, BCAAs in particular, aid in reducing muscle soreness. A study conducted at East Tennessee State University with collegiate distance runners on either placebo or supplementing with aminoVITAL®. The study showed a statistically significant difference in the soreness the athletes reported between weeks supplementing with aminoVITAL® vs placebo. In other words, amino acids can help you feel less sore. Meaning, you can work in more training and with a higher intensity. In short, if you can reduce some of the muscle soreness through supplementation, you are going to have the ability to give higher performance in subsequent days (11).
If you are looking for an amino acid supplement to aid in muscle recovery, try aminoVITAL Rapid Recovery. Rapid Recovery contains amino acids (BCAAs, Glutamine, and Arginine), electrolytes, and complex carbs to help your muscles recover faster. Rapid Recovery is clinically proven to reduce next-day muscle soreness.