Hi Hayley,

I workout regularly 3 to 4 times per week. The problem is I am always sore.  Muscle soreness. If it's not my triceps, it's my quads, if not my quads, it is my back, if not my back, then it is my shoulder muscles. You get the picture. I have a difficult enough time getting motivated to workout but then I am so sore for days afterwards. 

It is my understanding that we are supposed to work the muscle group to "muscle exhaustion" (that shaking feeling in my muscles) and I do... but then I can barely get out of bed the next day!  This past week my triceps have been so sore I can hardly lift a glass without wincing.

I am pushing 50 and I want to ensure I don't injure myself later in life but jeez... either I am sore/stiff from my workout, or, I'm sore b/c I haven't worked out.

Can you help?  Is this how everyone feels?    Should I be stretching more?  Drinking/eating something after or before my workouts?  Or is this what life is like now that I am exercising and aging?  Any suggestions would be welcome.

Thanks, S


A little bit of soreness is ok once and a while, as long as it does not last longer than 3 or 4 days. If your soreness becomes worse as the days progress and lasts up to a week, then you are experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and you have damaged your muscles. This usually is not serious, but you will need to take some time away from your workouts while you allow the inflammation to subside.

I have been working out, hard, for at least 20 years, and there are still days that I wake up sore. I have to laugh sometimes at myself when I wake up sore after a class I taught, but the soreness is not debilitating, just something I can feel. It is a tad uncomfortable, but it does not prevent me from doing my daily activities. After a race, it may take me a week to completely recover, but that is when I am pushing myself to my maximum.

So, to answer your question, it is not normal to feel this sore all the time after a workout and no, not everyone is feeling this way. You could try following an anti-inflammatory diet and taking fish oils daily, but I would suggest you change your workouts and talk to a health professional, such as a doctor or physiotherapist, to see if there may be an underlying issue.  

Another tip is being consistent. If you are sporadic with your workouts, leaving 5 or 6 days in between sessions, then you will feel sore each time you exercise. Try lightening the load you are lifting while increasing the amount of repetitions you are completing, and do not allow for more than two days off between workouts. You should find that after a few workouts the soreness goes away, however each time you increase the intensity of the workout, or if you try a new activity, you may be sore for a day or so after.
You could also try using your own body weight as resistance and use machines such as the TRX, or attending Pilates and Yoga classes. Working with your own body weight is a great way to build strength while decreasing the chance of injuring yourself.

Make sure you have warmed up sufficiently and spend a few moments doing gentle range of motion exercises and active stretches before you begin. Stick to exercises that are of lower impact. This limits the eccentric force placed onto your muscles, which can be a huge part of muscle soreness the next day.  Also, a very light workout on a day where you find yourself extremely sore can also help to alleviate pain.  I always run 1 mile the day after a marathon. It isn’t a pretty mile and it hurts with each step, but I am always thankful the next day when I am walking with a bit more ease. You could even try an Epsom salts bath or an ice bath, where you sit in a tub full of cold water for 10 minutes, to help with your muscle soreness.
And it may be worth your time to speak to a personal trainer at your gym to ensure that you are doing the movements properly. Exercise should make you feel good, not debilitate you each time you exercise.  Yes, it is ok once in a while to be sore, but it should not be something that is reoccurring nor should it affect your enjoyment of being active.