Muscle pain after exercise, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), is caused by small tears in the muscle fibers that occur during physical activity. These tears are a normal part of the muscle repair process and are necessary for muscle growth and strength. However, they can also cause muscle soreness.
DOMS is typically most common after activities that involve eccentric muscle contractions, which occur when a muscle lengthens as it contracts. This can happen when you do activities such as running downhill, doing plyometric exercises, or performing bicep curls with a dumbbell.
Other factors that can contribute to muscle soreness after exercise include:
- Doing a new activity or exercise that your muscles are not used to
- Doing an activity or exercise that is more intense or longer in duration than what your muscles are accustomed to
- Not warming up or cooling down properly before and after exercise
- Being dehydrated
- Not getting enough rest and recovery between workouts
If muscle soreness is severe or persists for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional.