Site Logo


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: The Second Day Hurts the Worst.

By Scott Toll.

I have often noted the interesting fact that my body’s muscles and joints hurt more on the second day than they do on the day right after a hard workout. It never made sense to me, but I have definitely noticed that the “spring” in my step heading up the flight of stairs at home is definitely less “springy” on the Tuesday following my weekend warrior athletics.

It’s ironic because I’ve always taken Mondays off from physical activity, thinking it to be the best day for rest and recovery after my hard weekend efforts.

And maybe it is, but perhaps I need to revise my thinking having just read in the May 2015 edition of Outside Magazine a response by fitness coach, Meaghen Brown, to the following reader question:

“Q: Why am I sorer two days after a hard workout than I am after the first day?”

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

“A: Second-day aches, or delayed-onset muscle soreness, are the result of micro-traumas that spark an inflammatory healing response. According to Robert Amrine, a sports-medicine physician, when a muscle is strained beyond its adapted usage, the cells discharge an abnormal amount of calcium. This prompts the release of proteases and phospholipases, hormonal enzymes that clean up and repair the damaged tissue. As this occurs, the surrounding nerve fibers become increasingly sensitive. The whole process takes about 24 hours to start working and can peak 72 hours after the activity, which is why the pain is often more noticeable on day two. The best fix? Active recovery, like a light jog or easy bike ride.”

According to Gabe Mirkin, MD in his Recovery Times article, “Biopsies taken on the day after a hard workout from the muscles of athletes show bleeding into the muscles and disruption of the muscle fibers. If you try to exercise intensely when your muscles are still sore from a previous workout, you are at great risk for injuring yourself.”

So… the take-away – intense workouts cause muscle damage and soreness! Ha, no surprise in that fact. The question becomes: “How best to recover?”

For me, “active recovery” sounds like the perfect prescription. What better way than to start it off with a Monday massage, moving into a Tuesday of light trail running or cycling. As an active, but aging athlete, I like the idea of adding a little “ease” to my daily exercise routine by receiving a massage from one of Siskiyou Massage’s expert and experienced professionals. Sounds like the perfect therapy to encourage and enable me to continue my weekend craziness!

Perhaps, in the future, the second day won’t hurt the worst, maybe it won’t hurt at all!


Scott Toll

***Scott Toll has recently joined the office staff at Siskiyou Massage. After years of falling down, getting up, showing up, and moving forward, he looks forward to meeting everyone who comes to the clinic with his or her own story of “Grace and Grit”.