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Why Do Your Thighs Burn When You Are Working Out & Walking?

author image Ashley Farley
Ashley Farley has been a certified personal trainer since 2008. She is also a writer specializing in healthy living, fitness and nutrition topics. Farley has an Associate of Science in mental health services from the Community College of the Air Force and is pursuing her B.A. in English at Wright State University.
Why Do Your Thighs Burn When You Are Working Out & Walking?
Walking at a fast pace or for a longer distance than you are used to can cause sore thigh muscles.

Your thighs are made up of two large muscle groups, the quadriceps on the front of your thigh and the hamstrings located on the back of your thigh. These muscles are engaged when you walk, run, lift weights and play sports. It is common to feel burning in your thighs if you attempt to do more than your muscles are prepared for when pushed to their maximum.

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Muscle burn, or acidosis, is a common sensation during long bouts of exercise. During physical activity, your muscles use adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, as an energy source. ATP releases hydrogen ions, which can either be absorbed by other chemicals in your body or can build up in your muscles. When hydrogen ions accumulate in your muscles, they create a burning sensation. You will most often experience a hydrogen buildup when you push your body harder during your workouts or if you work at a moderate to intense pace.


The first thing you can do to stop the soreness is to rest after a workout. Your muscles have been overexerted and will need a break from physical activity. If the soreness continues, try using an ice pack once an hour for 15 to 20 minutes. Anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin, can help to alleviate pain and any associated swelling. A doctor should treat muscle soreness that lasts beyond two to three days. This could be a sign of a muscle strain or a possible tear, which may require physical therapy, prescription medications and, in very extreme cases, surgery.


Stretching before and after workouts and walking can be beneficial for your muscles. Stretching improves flexibility, reduces your risk for injury, can prevent muscle soreness and prepares your muscles for activity. Stretch not only your thighs, but also your arms, chest, back and stomach before working out or going for a walk. Move slowly into each stretch, stop when you feel gentle tension and hold the stretch for 20 seconds.

Build Strength

The stronger your muscles are, the more prepared they will be for working out and walking. Strength training or weightlifting exercises can help build new muscle tissue and improve your muscular endurance. Strength training should challenge your muscles without feeling impossible. You should be able to complete eight to 12 repetitions for each exercise you choose without feeling pain. Train your entire body, including your thighs, at least twice a week for 30 minutes. Exercises such as lunges, leg presses and squats target the muscles of your thighs.

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