So, you just finished your first workout, and now, after getting home and a hot shower, you can barely walk. Your muscles are sore, and you ask yourself, "why is one leg more sore than the other after workouts?"
Most of the time, this happens in your hamstrings and glutes but can happen on other muscle groups where you have been hitting the weights hard. Well, for most people, working out comes with a sore muscle or two. It's normal and nothing to worry about, but what's the deal with this particular muscle soreness.
My wild guess is that your one leg is sorer than the other because of two reasons. Either you perform squats properly, resulting in your weak leg, or you do them wrong, resulting in soreness in your strong leg. However, this is just an educated guess at best; the issue may be something else different.
Follow our guide to determine some of the most common reasons for that sore leg, as well as some tips to alleviate discomfort in the future.
Why Is One Leg More Sore Than The Other?
Here are some common reasons behind this peculiar muscle soreness:
1. You're Not Stretching Both Legs Equally
If you're only stretching one leg after your workouts, it's no wonder that leg is sorer than the other! Or the worst: you are not probably stretching at all, which may also cause this muscle soreness, especially in your non-dominant leg. Make sure to give both legs some love by stretching them equally and for long enough.
2. Your Quads May Be Getting Worked More Than Your Hamstrings
If your workout routine mainly consists of exercises that work your quads (think: squats, lunges, leg presses), then it's not surprising that your quads would be sorer than your hamstrings. To even things out, try adding some hamstring-specific exercises to your routine, like deadlifts and hamstring curls.
3. Your Running Form Could Be Off
If you're a runner, your soreness could be caused by your running form. If your form is off, you may be putting more stress on one leg than the other, which could lead to more soreness in that leg. Talk to a running coach or physical therapist to get a professional opinion on your form. You may also consider PEMF therapy!
4. You Have a Leg-Length Discrepancy
If one of your legs is shorter than the other, that could be why that leg is more sore after workouts. When your legs are different lengths, your body has to compensate, which can lead to extra strain on one leg. If you suspect you have a leg-length discrepancy, see a doctor or physical therapist get it checked out.
5. You Might Have Fallen and Sprained Your Ankle Recently
If you've sprained your ankle recently, that could be the reason your leg is more sore. Even if the sprain has healed, you may still have some residual soreness and stiffness. If your soreness is accompanied by swelling, redness, or pain, see a doctor make sure the sprain has fully healed.
6. You May Be Using Your More Dominant Limb More
If you're right-handed, you may be using your right leg more than your left, which could lead to more soreness in the right leg. To even things out, try to consciously use your non-dominant limb more often throughout the day.
7. You Could Be Working Out at The Wrong Time of Day
If you typically work out in the evening but find that your legs are sorer in the morning, it could be because you're working out too close to bedtime. Our bodies need time to wind down before sleep, and working out too close to bed can disrupt this process and lead to more soreness. Try moving your workout to earlier in the day and see if that makes a difference.
8. Your Left and Right Legs Are Not Equal in Strength
Even if you're using both legs equally, one leg may be stronger than the other. This can lead to more soreness in the weaker leg after workouts since it's not used to the same level of stress. To even things out, focus on strengthening your weaker leg with specific exercises.
9. What You're Eating May Come into Play
If you're not eating enough protein, your muscles may not be able to properly recover from your workouts, leading to more soreness. Make sure you're eating enough protein-rich foods like lean meats, eggs, and beans, and consider adding a protein supplement to your diet.
10. The Cause of Your Leg Soreness Could Be Related to Your Shoes
If you're constantly getting leg soreness, your shoes could be to blame. Worn-out shoes can cause extra stress on your muscles and joints, leading to more soreness. Invest in a new pair of shoes and see if that makes a difference.
What to Do When Your One Leg Is Sorer Than the Other?
If you follow our blog, you've probably noticed that these reasons why one leg is more sore than the other after running or workouts are similar to the reasons why it is harder to flex my left arm. So, the things you'll need to do will also be somewhat similar:
1. Follow a Leg Day Routine
If you find that one leg is more sore than the other after workouts, it's important to follow a leg day routine. This will help ensure that both legs are getting the same amount of attention and that you're working the muscles evenly.
2. Do Single-Leg Movements
Single-leg movements help to even out the workload between legs. Try exercises like single-leg deadlifts and lunges. Also, train both legs at the same time: This will help to keep the muscles in both legs balanced.
3. Train Asymmetrically
Asymmetrical training helps to correct imbalances between the legs. Try exercises like split squats and single-leg presses.
4. Try Compression Socks
Compression socks can help to reduce swelling and improve blood circulation.
5. Stretch After Workouts
Stretching helps to improve flexibility and prevent injuries. Be sure to stretch both legs equally every time you go for a workout or running session.
6. See Your Doctor If You Suspect an Injury
If you think you may have an injury, it's important to see a doctor. They can help diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of treatment.
In summary, if you find that one of your legs is more sore than the other after workouts, it could be due to a number of factors. It could be that you favor one side when working out or that one of your legs is weaker than the other.
It is also possible that you have an injury or imbalance in your muscles. Whatever the cause, it is important to find out why this is happening and correct the problem. Otherwise, you could end up with an injury that could sideline you from your workouts altogether.
Maintain appropriate technique and single-leg exercise, and things should improve rapidly for you.