The Causes of Muscle Soreness

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on June 17, 2009

After running my first 10k race, I realized the wear and tear 10km of hills can put on the leg muscles! I knew that I had to be cognizant of my diet over the next several days so my body could heal itself fast.


Did you know that intense workouts suppress immune system function? That is often why people get sick when they are over-doing it with cardio or shortly following an intense race. Because the body is working so hard to repair itself, immune function is not at its’ best!

The Causes of Muscle Soreness Post Workout:

1. Mechanical Stress: Microscopic tears to muscle fibre membranes and protein filaments that happen as a result of repetitive muscle contractions. It is no wonder that my quads were screaming after those hills! When there is damage such as this to the muscles, blood flows to the area which then produces inflammation, and inflammation leads to soreness!

Microscopic tears –> Increased blood flow –> Inflammation –> Soreness!

2. Oxidative Stress (free radical damage): When someone is exercising intensely, their rate of oxygen consumption increases dramatically. The oxygen that enters the body during exercise loses an electron and turns into free radicals inside the body. Free radicals are a charged atom or a group of atoms that damage our cells, proteins, and DNA by altering their chemical structure. The damage from free radicals can be prevented by binding the free radical with an antioxidant. That is why I took Vitamin C, omega 3 oil, Spirulina, and other vitamins before and after my race. Antioxidants help offset the damage to our bodies!

3. Stress Hormone: Cortisol: When the body is under any type of stress Cortisol s released. Cortisol releases amino acids from muscle proteins and takes them to the liver to use as an energy source. This usually occurs once our glycogen stores have been depleted in long workouts. Cortisol also suppresses our immune system because it decreases the production of lymphocytes and antibodies. Research has shown that our immune system is compromised for 2-72 hours following intense exercise.

How can proper nutrition combat the negative effects of exercise?

1. Consume a diet high in antioxidant vitamins and minerals (Vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, and selenium). Studies show that vitamin C consumption post exercise reduces muscle soreness.

2. Consume carbs during and following intense exercise (This maintains your glycogen stores and prevents the use of protein for energy!)

[Source 1, Source 2]

Did you miss my 10k recaps?


Good news– I am going to be selling my Glo Bakery goodies in a market this Saturday!! Guess what I am doing non stop today and the next 2 days? BAKING!!!!

I will be showing you everything I am making, including some new granola bars! :D

Here is a teaser…


See you tonight for Part 2 on muscle repair following intense exercise!

Today’s Question: Do you put much thought into your diet before and after intense bouts of exercise? What do you eat and why?


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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Katherine June 17, 2009 at 11:55 am

I definitely consider my diet pre and post-workout, though more so when considering pre/post race. I try to eat a combination of fat/protein/carbs before and after I work out. I also drink LOTS of water and green tea. The Green Monsters in the morning have been helping as well! Just like after a deep tissue massage, drinking water is really key – flush out all those toxins and rehydrate your joints and tissue!

Good luck with all the baking and congrats on the sales opportunity!


Shannon, The Healthy Beach Bum June 17, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Ooo can’t wait to read about your new granola bars!! :) I never really think about what I eat after my work out.. but definitely before a run I do. Usually have a piece of Ezekiel, a fried egg, and an apple to get me going! (Not sure if that is great pre-running food though..)

Good luck at the market Saturday! :) I know they will all love you and your healthy baked goods!


Help Meghan Run June 17, 2009 at 12:26 pm

I can’t wait to see the new bars, either! I make sure to get some carbs (with a little fat and protein, depending on the time) in before my runs, and then my post-run meal is nice and balanced. :)


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Great tips everyone!!

Thanks for your encouragement regarding the baking…I’ve made about 130 bars so far. I think you will all really like the new twist on them! :)


Amy June 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Very interesting post! I have been taking Vitamin D for awhile now, but I wonder if I should be taking Vitamin C after my runs. Granted, I do eat fruit after my run, so I might be getting enough Vitamin C during the day. Something to think about, though….


Krista June 17, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Great post, Ange!

You must email me to let me know what market you will be at! :)


[email protected] June 17, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I definitely consider my diet pre and post workout. Pre is something light that won’t spike my blood sugar and make me crash,like whole grain crackers and a bit of cheese or PB/AB and post is something with protein and potassium, especially after weights or a hard run. Food with turmeric is also great as it has an affect on muscle inflammation!


Leila June 17, 2009 at 1:09 pm

congrats, that’s super awesome you’re selling Glo Bakery items in a market!! Just wondering, would you be willing to reveal what market? I live in the Toronto area and if doable, would love to drop by and buy some thing.


brandi June 17, 2009 at 1:24 pm

congrats on the market this weekend! that is so exciting :)


cindy June 17, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Hi Angela-

I just found your blog a short time ago, and you do a great job! Helpful, informative information. Maybe you can offer me some tips, I just purchased a Vita Mix to make green monsters. Can you share your favorite combinations or just general information on them. Thanks. (p.s. you bake goods all look so good!!)


Robyn June 17, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Great timing with this post, Angela! I am home from work today because I am sick. I started getting sick right after I completed a long, arduous bike ride on Sunday. I now know why! I had no idea that the immune system is compromised after an intense workout. Next time, I will be more vigilant with vitamins (I often forget to take them on the weekends!) and hydration. Thanks for these tips and all the others :)


Amanda June 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Very interesting post!

I try to eat something light, yet with staying power before a run. Usually it’s something like half a banana with honey or half of a bar. Afterwards, I know how important it is to have protein so I integrate that into my meal. Training for a race has really made me more aware of what I am putting into my body and its nutritional value!


Kristine June 17, 2009 at 2:14 pm

I am so proud of you for running that 10K race and being so successful! You should feel proud.

Anywho, I have a fantastic question for you. I am still SO skeptical of your green monster concoction (haha). I don’t eat NEARLY the amount of veggies or fruit that I should, but I do feel like having it in smoothie form is a fantastic way for be to get in my daily dose of veggies/fruit! I don’t like bananas either (at all!). Is there a specific recipe you would recommend to a green monster beginner? What other fruit would be good to put in it besides a banana? PLEASE HELP ME!!! Hehe! :) Thanks a bunch!


Melissa (fitnessnyc) June 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm

great info thanks angela!


avabee June 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I’m also a runner who just finished her first marathon last month. I’m currently training for a half in September. I’ve begun taking my pre/post run nutrition very seriously; I found during marathon training that it makes a huge difference in my energy, endurance, and ability to recover.

I eat pretty lightly before running. For short (10 miles) so I don’t hit the wall. Immediately afterwards I make sure I fill up with both carbs and protein for muscle recovery. Smoothies are great for this! I make mine with almond milk.


Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope June 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm

This is such great information Angela! I’m not big into long distance running, but I often times do intense yoga or pilates sessions. Although I’ve never thought too much about what I eat in relation to exercising, I ALWAYS stay hydrated. Whenever I do a session, I keep a cold bottle of water next to me within arm’s reach!

That’s so exciting about selling the baked goods this weekend! Can’t wait to see what all you end up selling! Have fun in kitchen! :)


Susan June 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I like eating foods that have a naturally high concentration of sugar before working out, like dates or a banana. They give me a quick energy boost and some fast acting carbs. As for after working out, I do carbs, but make sure I get lots of protein in too. I need the protein to help repair those muscle tears (and build muscle in the repairing process!) :)


alice June 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm

that makes so much sense now! (about the immune system being weak post-race)

after my first sprint tri, i definitely had THE worst cold of my life that i’m only recently getting rid of. i guess it wasn’t a coincidence! thanks for sharing. :-)


Run Sarah June 17, 2009 at 3:27 pm

I’m excited to see the new bars! I like having some quick carbs before a workout and a good, well balanced meal afterwards.


EatingRD June 17, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Hello! I just found your blog and am very excited to keep reading, especially all the wonderful baked goodies :) I also enjoyed reading your ‘about’ section. You have quite the accomplishments, that’s awesome! I have my undergrad in nutrition and am a registered dietitian. I currently started my masters in exercise physiology/sports nutrition, so your post today was very interesting! I’m glad you didn’t mention lactic acid causes muscle soreness, which is a common misconception. I care a lot about what I eat before/during/after a workout, especially if it’s pretty intense. I try to eat a substantial meal 2-3 hours before with a healthy dose of carbs. If it’s long I usually try to drink something to replenish during, but usually it’s just water, and afterwards I love having cottage cheese (protein, salt), watermelon/fruits (fluids)and some cereal (cho). I think that is so neat that you started your own business. I’m working on starting my own meal planning/cooking demonstration-type business. I too would love to pursue my passion for culinary and go to culinary school! Can’t wait to keep exploring your site and following you on twitter.


Carrie June 17, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I have a question! You mentioned somewhere that dairy causes acne. I would like to know more about this! I struggle with occassional small breakouts an it’s ANNOYING! I have always LOVED dairy and I am considering cutting it out to see if it helps. :( So sad. Are there any dairy free versions of ice cream and cheese???


Kristen June 17, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Hi Ange! I was just wondering for your glo buns, can you replace the whole wheat pastry flour with whole wheat flour? Sorry for the silly question.:)

Hmm I am not sure on this one. I find pastry flour acts in weird and wonderful ways at times. You probably could, but I would try a mix of All purpose white flour and whole wheat. Sometimes whole wheat on its own can result in tough doughs. esp. when mixing…Just add the flour gradually in case yuo don’t need to use as much. :) Goodluck! ~A


april June 17, 2009 at 5:28 pm

I’m not very knowledgeable on pre and post work-out snacks! However I always eat after I work out- usually it’s in some sort of protein though! And I never exercise in the morning without eating something!


Hannah June 17, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Hey Angela-perfect timing! I just went for a run today but it ended up mostly being a walk because my leg muscles-all of them, were sore from my strength training workout. I was happy that my strength training was challenging, hence the muscle soreness, but then it negatively affects my cardio sessions! HOw can we make both workouts equally challenging without hindering the other?


Jocelyn June 17, 2009 at 6:02 pm

congratz on getting to sell your goodies! :)


Jenn Eats Nutritiously Now June 17, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Very interesting post, thanks!


Julie June 17, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Hi Angela! I love your blog!! I’ve been reading it for quite a while. You’ve give some excellent advice on your blog…so I wanted to ask you something.

For the most part, I’m an incredibly healthy person – I run, strength train, do yoga, eat healthy, etc. However, I have one bad habit that I can’t seem to kick – cigarettes!! I feel like I’ve tried everything…I’ve quit many times but within a few months, I’m back smoking. Smoking is something I’ve never seen talked about on the health/fitness blogs but I’m sure I’m not the only one that struggles with this. I appreciate any advice you can provide! Thanks!!


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