Almost everyone who has ever performed any rigorous physical activity knows that muscles will get sore if they are worked beyond their normal everyday activity. In some cases, the soreness may occur after performing an activity that an individual did not consider was physically demanding, such as painting a wall. In other scenarios, a virus or infection can be the cause of pain in one’s muscles. Even less likely to be the case, muscle soreness can occur as a result of a negative side effect from medications. Usually, muscle soreness occurs due to minor microscopic tears in the muscle tissue as a result of intense physical activity.
When performing an exercise or any other activity, the muscles get used, stretched, and contract. In the stretching phase, and especially if the muscle is being strained past its normal capacity, minute tears can develop in the muscle tissue. Minor swelling will also appear with these microscopic tears. These tears are what is believed to be the cause of muscle soreness after performing rigorous physical activities. The muscle can begin to get used to certain movement patterns after repeated stretching and use. This adaptation process strengthens the muscle, and the muscle will heal and the soreness will eventually go away – until the individual pushes their muscles beyond their limits once again.
Going back to the painting example, the climbing of the ladder on a ladder or step stool, in addition to constantly reaching up and down, can cause microscopic muscle tears in the arms, legs, and back to be used beyond their normal capacity. The end result is similar to that of exercise, but the muscles will return back to full capacity after a day or so because these movement patterns are not regularly recurring.
A common symptom of colds and flu is muscle soreness. This is most likely due to an association with minor swelling of the muscles being caused by bacteria or virus harming the body’s cells. Furthermore, as the cells in the body are preoccupied fending off the infecting virus, joints and muscles may receive less blood flow and fluid levels, leading to muscle soreness.
The majority of the time when a muscle gets sore, it is due to muscle strain and is not life-threatening. Any exercise and muscle training should be introduced gradually so as to avoid severe or chronic muscle injury. Individuals who experience slight muscle soreness from exercise need not let it prevent them from reaching their exercise goals, as it is not indicative of how recovered a muscle is. On the other hand, muscle soreness as a result of medical side effects or illness absolutely need to be discussed with a doctor or other such medical professional.
Photo Credit: micolumnasana