What Causes Sore Muscles After Playing Football?

Peewee football game

Playing football is not for the faint of heart. You are running, stopping quickly, dodging other people and getting tackled. It's no wonder that your muscles are sore after you play. A few different factors can contribute to sore muscles after playing football. And with a plan in place you can help your body recover.

Immediate Muscle Soreness

You may feel pain, discomfort or soreness while playing or immediately after playing football. This soreness usually dissipates quickly, according to the American Council on Exercise. It is caused by fatigue and nutrient depletion in your muscles. When you exercise your body is burning calories and carbohydrates from your body. As you deplete the glycogen, or stored form of carbohydrates, your muscles become more tired and may feel sore. Once you stop exercising, and eat something you feel immediately better.

Delayed Muscle Soreness

The other common type of muscle soreness is delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. This happens within 24 to 48 hours of exercise, or playing football. This type of soreness is caused by microtrauma to the muscle tissue. While normal, it may be extremely uncomfortable and take a few days to heal. When you exercise intensely your muscles are pushed beyond what they are used to. Microscopic tears can occur in the muscle fibers of your body. These tears are what hurt, and the pain dissipates as your body heals.

Pain That Persists

Within a couple of days of playing football you should be feeling better. Even if you were really sore at first, you notice that each day is a little better. If pain or discomfort persists past a few days, or seems to get worse, you may have an injury. It may be a minor muscle pull, but you should see a physician if it does not get better. The affected area may be swollen or painful to the touch. Avoid any further football until your doctor clears you.

Avoiding Muscle Soreness

The more often you play football, the less sore you will be. Not necessarily from tackling, but your muscles become stronger and used to the activity. To help avoid and recover from soreness always start with a warm-up. Jog or walk for five to 10 minutes and perform dynamic stretches that get your muscles ready for football. After your game, perform static stretches and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Take a day off from exercise the day after your game, and drink plenty of fluids to replace those that you sweat out. Eat within 30 to 45 minutes of your game in order to replenish your body and aid recovery.