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Acute muscle soreness is the pain felt in muscles during and immediately after strenuous physical exercise. The pain appears within a minute of contracting the muscle and disappears within two or three minutes[1] or up to several hours[2] after relaxing it.

The following causes have been proposed for acute muscle soreness:

  • Accumulation of chemical end products of exercise in muscle cells, such as H+[2]
  • Tissue edema caused by the shifting of blood plasma into the muscle tissue during contraction[2]
  • Muscle fatigue (the muscle tires and cannot contract any more)[3]

Another form of muscle pain is delayed onset muscle soreness, which peaks between 24 and 72 hours after exercise.


  1. ^ Michael Kjaer; Michael Krogsgaard; Peter Magnusson; Lars Engebretsen; Harald Roos; Timo Takala; Savio Woo (2008). Textbook of Sports Medicine: Basic Science and Clinical Aspects of Sports Injury and Physical Activity. John Wiley and Sons. p. 722. ISBN 978-1-4051-4057-7.
  2. ^ a b c Jack H. Wilmore; David L. Costill; W. Larry Kenney (2008). Physiology of sport and exercise. Human Kinetics. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-7360-5583-3.
  3. ^ Springhouse Corporation (2000). Physical therapist's clinical companion. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 265. ISBN 978-1-58255-004-6.