Why do muscles swell after workout?

Have you ever had a great workout only to wake up the next day feeling like a giant, swollen balloon? Well hold on to your gym shorts people, because we are about to uncover the mysterious and oftentimes uncomfortable reality behind post-workout muscle swelling!

What is Muscle Swelling?

First things first – let’s define what this whole “swollen muscles” thing is all about. When you subject your body to physical exertion (e.g., weightlifting or running), it can cause microtears in your muscles. This leads to inflammation as your body works to repair those tiny tears.

Why Do Our Muscles Swell After Workout?

Ah, now for the fun part – why do our muscles swell after working out? Well folks, it all comes down to one pesky little feature of the human body called blood flow.

You see, when you’re working out and pushing yourself harder than usual (or even just exercising for longer periods of time), your heart starts pumping faster and harder. This increased blood flow helps deliver nutrients and oxygen throughout your bodily tissues more efficiently – which sounds great, right?

But here’s where things get interesting: that extra boost in blood flow can also lead to fluid buildup around damaged muscles. And voila! You’ve got yourself some noticeably swollen limbs.

But Wait…There’s More!

Believe it or not, there are actually several factors that can contribute to muscle swelling after workouts (who knew?!). Let’s break ’em down:

Muscle Fatigue

When you work out hard enough for long enough periods of time (say goodbye 30-minutes-on-the-treadmill-and-call-it-a-day mentality) , it can lead t fatigue among other problems. One miserable side effect associated with this phenomenon includes VOILA swollen-inflamed arms & legs.

Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness

Have you ever felt like you were hit by a truck a day or two after an intense workout? That’s thanks to something called delayed-onset muscle soreness (or DOMS for the acronym-savvy among us). And guess what – swollen muscles can also be a side effect of this malady (it’s like winning the lottery, but with way less payout!)


We all know that hydration is key when it comes to staying healthy and feeling good. But did you know that dehydration can actually contribute to post-workout swelling as well? When your body is dehydrated, it has a harder time flushing out waste products from your system (including those pesky fluids around inflamed muscles). Moral of the story: drink yo water!!

The Bottom Line?

Okay okay – so now we know why our bodies insist on punishing us with these swollen muscles; but at the end of the day, how big of a deal is it really? In short: not very big! Most people will see their post-exercise inflammation subside within 1-2 days (unless there are underlying medical issues causing chronic inflammation.)

So whether you’re basking in your shirtless glory at CrossFit camp or hobbling around after just killing some weight training exercises, don’t sweat about temporary stretching attire.

Remember folks… if Hulk could chill despite his eventual massive physique then no excuses should stop ya. Now go pump some iron and enjoy that next-day swole fest pandemic without worry!


Factors Contributing to Post-Workout Swelling
Muscle Fatigue
Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness

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