Factors That Affect Muscle Healing
Posted on Aug 24, 2020

It is surprisingly easy to damage your muscles, either through direct injury or fatigue. Exercise, strain, and overexertion are all ways that a muscle can experience trauma. Remember that muscle soreness is a normal part of becoming faster, stronger, and more flexible. No athlete will ever tell you that they were pain-free during training. Expect muscle soreness to happen during your improvement as a person, but also have an understanding of the basic physiology of muscle.

Understanding how you may be hurting your muscles, what their process of healing is, and how you can promote faster, affective recovery can help you to maintain stronger, healthier, pain-free muscles.  


Twisting a muscle, physical trauma from impact, lifting heavy objects, or simply overworking a muscle and not allowing it to rest are a few common ways that you can hurt your muscles. There are three stages of muscle damage and healing:

1. Destruction

You have experienced a muscle injury. The muscle fiber is torn, strained, or damaged, and the affected area begins to bruise. Within the first few days following the injury, the body identifies the injured area and begins the repair to this.

Early in the course of muscle soreness, the area will be inflamed and likely swollen. The damage is simply due to the microscopic fibers being stretched beyond their ability to recover to normal. This signals to the body to make that area stronger.

2. Repair

Within a few days or weeks following your injury, repair cells begin cleaning out any blood or dead tissue from the site of damage. Muscle fibers and tissues are reconnected, and nerves and blood vessels reenter the healed area. The human body is remarkably efficient at repair and making muscles better.

3. Remodeling

This final stage of healing goes hand-in-hand with the Repair stage. As tissues and fibers are connected and rebuilt, additional aid from external sources including physical therapy and targeted exercise can help the muscle injury to heal uniformly rather than randomly. The muscle fibers respond to load and stretch. Guided movement and use during healing will actually be better than avoiding activity.

Recovery is essential for healing, but total recovery does not mean total rest. For example, think of a weightlifter. Muscle will hypertrophy (or become bigger) in response to microscopic damage from heavier loads over time. If the loads do not persist, the muscle will never become bigger.


There are many ways that you can aid in the restoration of your muscles. When you stress your muscles, it is essential to give them plenty of time to rest so that pain and inflammation can diminish and the fibers have time to reconnect. Again, this rest does not mean a total halt to activity. If you have questions about when and how to start back activity, speak to your personal trainer, physical therapist, physician, or coach. 

Antioxidants matter

Remember to drink plenty of water and eat antioxidant-rich foods or take a supplement rich in antioxidants to keep your muscle tissue hydrated and fight inflammation.

A mandatory part of recovery and healing is to remove damaging free radicals from the region of muscle damage. This means antioxidants are necessary.

When working out, choose low-intensity workouts that will have less impact on your muscles and joints during the acute phase of healing.

Before and after a workout, gently stretch the muscles to relieve tension. Foam rolling, muscle massage, alternating cool and warm compresses, and resting your muscles can also boost recovery. Other modalities like infrared therapy, vitamin infusions, acupuncture, and herbal tincture treatments also play a role.  

If you are experiencing severe muscle pain or issues with mobility, consult your physician as soon as possible for further assistance. Again, for the best advice regarding a good way to recover your muscles while trying to become better and perform at higher levels during your wellness journey, don’t be afraid to ask a professional.  


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