Sore muscles from elliptical trainer

Written by danielle north
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Sore muscles from elliptical trainer
Ice packs can help to relieve sore muscles caused by overexertion. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Sore muscles are frequently a by-product of intense or unfamiliar workouts. Exercisers can experience soreness from weight training activities as well as cardiovascular activities. An aerobic workout using an elliptical trainer, with its variety of incline and resistance settings, is one such workout that can give users, experienced and inexperienced alike, tender muscles after the workout is complete.

Soreness Explained

When muscles are introduced to a new movement, they must "learn" how to handle that movement and, in essence, develop a memory for the way in which they need to perform. This need for the development of muscle memory occurs for both individuals who regularly work out and for those who have a less active lifestyle. New or strenuous exercises cause muscle fibers to tear slightly. While this sounds like an unhealthy prospect, this is how muscles make room for additional muscle fibers.

Elliptical trainers primarily target the calf muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles, and sore muscles may occur from the initial workouts on this machine. However, if the muscle pain is immediate, sharp, of extended duration (more than 3 or 4 days), or reoccurs with continued use of the machine, consult your physician as these symptoms may indicate a more serious condition.


Workouts on elliptical trainers can be very vigorous, whole-body workouts that include the legs and arms. As such, there is an increased likelihood that the body will compensate and try to cool down by sweating. The sweating process increases the body's dehydration and, after the elliptical routine is complete, hinders the muscles in their rebuilding process.

When you do an elliptical training workout, make sure to drink water before, after and during the workout. You should drink enough so that you are no longer thirsty, but not enough to feel bloated.


Elliptical trainers are useful for targeting muscles, especially those in the thighs and buttocks. After using the elliptical trainer, stretch these muscles to ensure that they remain flexible and to promote blood flow to the area. Stretching helps to loosen the muscle fibers slightly so that, as they rebuild, they are less likely to become painful.

Increasing Tolerance

Individuals who are new to elliptical machines should avoid any increase in incline or resistance settings until they have been using the machine for at least 3 to 4 weeks. Similarly, the amount of time you spend on an elliptical should ramp up slowly instead of attempting a long session on the first try. This introductory period allows muscles to become familiar with the elliptical machine's movements and adjust appropriately as conditions change.

Relieving Symptoms

If you have already engaged in your first elliptical training session and find your muscles to be tender, some at-home solutions will help to reduce the pain. Cool baths or ice packs on the affected muscles numb the pain and soothe any muscle inflammation. Stretching, even a day or two after the fact, will help to alleviate muscle soreness. Massages are similar to stretching in that they reduce muscle knots and increase blood circulation to the area.

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