What Causes Sore Stomach Muscles?

There are probably a number of things which can cause sore stomach muscles although they usually fall into the category of an athletic injury, overworking the muscles during a workout, or straining a muscle through quick movement, particularity if the muscle has not been warmed up.

Sore stomach muscles sometimes bring with them a good feeling, such as the day following a satisfying muscle strengthening workout. In such a case stomach muscles haven't been damaged beyond microscopic tearing, a natural condition when a muscle has been pushed to its limit.

In truth, sore stomach muscles is somewhat of a misnomer as the stomach itself does not have much in the way of  muscles, at least muscles that are very commonly worked. A more accurate term is abdominal muscles, as it is the abdominal muscles which are almost always those that when sore, are referred to as sore stomach muscles.

The three groups making up the abdominal muscles are the Internal Obliques, the External Obliques, and the Rectus Abdominus. The latter is the one observed to someone who has "washboard abs", and the muscles we exercise when doing sit ups or abdominals. If we twist our upper body from side to side while doing abdominals, we work the Internal and External Obliques.

Usually it’s the Rectus Abdominus that's the source of our sore stomach muscles, although if the muscles are sore or hurt because of injury, it's more apt to be either the Exterior Obliques or Interior Obliques which may have been damaged by violent twisting. The Rectus Abdominus is more apt to be injured and become sore when suddenly and incorrectly lifting a heavy object. Women in the latter stages of pregnancy sometimes complain of sore stomach muscles as the muscles can sometimes become distended or moved slightly apart under pressure from the fetus.

Classes Of Muscle Strains - A mild abdominal muscle strain is most apt to be felt as a tightness in the muscles rather than pain, or a "stitch" if the Obliques are involved. Sometimes if the muscles have become irritated they may have a tendency to cramp. This condition is the result of what is called a Class 1 strain, the mildest form of muscle injury.

A Class 2 muscle strain is more severe and may make motion or stretching of the abdominal muscles painful. Rest is usually the best cure, together with wearing an elastic wrap when moving about to keep the muscle relatively motionless. The Rectus Abdominus is a rather deep muscle and one not always easy to treat with a wrap or soothe with compresses.

The worst situation would be a complete muscle tear, a Class 3 strain, where movement of the abdomen become virtually impossible without experiencing pain, sometimes severe pain. Internal bleeding will often occur in this case and a RICE treatment (Rest - Ice - Compression, followed later, perhaps much later, by Exercise) has to be called into play. The services of a trainer knowledgeable about dealing with this type of injury, or a doctor, will usually be required.

Patience Needed - Any abdominal or stomach muscle injury requires rest in order to heal properly, a piece of advice all too often ignored by athletes who decide to "play through the pain", normally not a good idea. It's better to rest sore stomach muscles for a few days if needed, than to continue to exercise them, possibly leading to more serious injury and a need to rest the muscles for weeks if not months. The next time you experience sore stomach muscles, give yourself a rest for a day or two and see how things go. If the pain or discomfort disappears, you're probably good to go.