Post-Workout Burning Muscles

Injured runner
A man with sore calf muscles. (Image: Halfpoint/iStock/Getty Images)

If you work out too long or too vigorously, you set up the scenario for injury. Muscle injury typically includes symptoms such as pain, swelling and a burning sensation. While they can occur at any fitness level, beginners are more likely to experience these effects simply because the body has not had sufficient time to adapt to the demands of exercise. This is why you need to begin an exercise program slowly.

Exercise Effects

An explanation behind the warm feeling you have after exercise may lie in the effects of exercise on the body. Any exercise that builds strength has the potential to cause muscle damage. During strength training, this is a common occurrence. The damage affects the muscle fibers, and tears develop. This process triggers an immune system response by your body to begin the repair of the damage.

Inflammatory Response

The inflammatory response of the immune system describes a collection of symptoms that ultimately lead to the warm, burning sensation you feel. Certain types of white blood cells increase that are partly responsible for stimulating the release of histamine. Histamine causes your blood vessels to dilate to increase blood flow to the damaged site. Their walls become more porous or leaky to allow the white blood cells to enter. This action will induce redness. warmth and swelling. The heat serves two functions. It can speed up reactions in the repair process. It can also create an inhospitable environment for microbes that can cause infection.


The warm sensation you feel is a positive sign that the body is responding to the exercise-induced damage. The symptoms leading to the burning feeling indicate the body's attempt to speed up recovery. The dilated blood vessels will make it easier for the circulatory system to remove damaged cells. It also ensures ready availability of fuel and nutrients to further support the body's actions. Even though you may feel discomfort, your body is responding appropriately.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

While the body's response to exercise has benefits, it may also play a role in delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. DOMS describes the aching you feel after exercising. Lactic acid was once believed to be the cause, but medical research now suggests that the inflammatory response triggered by exercise may be at the root. DOMS occurs no matter what your fitness level. Prolonged aerobic exercise such as running initiates the greatest response, explains a 2003 study by the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine in Canada, published in the January 2003 issue of the "Sao Paulo Medical Journal." You can prevent DOMS by warming up and cooling down for five to 10 minutes before and after exercise.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.