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Why Does My Body Ache After A Physical Fight

Why Does My Body Ache After A Physical Fight

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The human body is capable of taking extreme punishment during a fight. And with the right treatment, it still, be capable of repairing itself to its pre-fight condition. Depending on your age and how your own body works, some will be quicker than others. But why does the body ache after a physical fight is over?

During the process of the fight, the body will receive damage via kicks, punches and takedowns. All of which will have an effect on the muscles and joints in question. Much of this is masked during the fight thanks to adrenaline. But post-fight the body then needs to start doing its repairs.

I spoke previously about the effect adrenaline has on the body and how it helps to mask pain. And there are plenty of examples of this in life-and-death situations, where people have been seriously injured. But due to the immediate danger in the situation, the person did not even realise it.

The same thing applies in combat sports, as the body produces excessive amounts of adrenaline. It masks the damage received during the fight, only for it to become apparent once the fight is over.

When the post-fight celebrations are done and the team begins to assess the entirety of the fight. It is at this time that the fighter will begin to succumb to inevitable aches and pains attained during the contest.

During The Fight

During the fight itself, the body may receive all manner of punches and kicks of varying impact. Now the human body consists of a skeletal structure, covered in muscle with a layer of skin. Enough of the biology lesson already!

But essentially as the outer layers are soft, they are susceptible to taking damage from impacts. The skin covering the muscles is joined to the skeleton via cartilage. And so the trauma of these impacts to the body will result in bruises and sometimes even fractures.

Two British bare knuckle fighters in the ring.
Two bare-knuckle throw punches inside the ring.

Now I am not going to get into how the body repairs after a fight, but rather stick to the topic of why it hurts after a physical altercation. If you want to find out more about the actual science behind how the body repairs itself. I highly recommend this article from Harvard on wound healing and the immune system.

Once The Fight Is Over

But after a fight is over and the body has to deal with all kinds of bruising, stress and strains. It will need to dig down into its toolbox and set about doing the necessary repairs to the vehicle.

You can suffer bruising, which is caused by damage to the blood vessels under the skin called capillaries. You could receive mild head or perhaps severe head trauma.

You may experience nerve damage, especially in those areas which are repeatedly kicked. Like in the thigh area of the leg, which good kickers love to target. But also the lower leg area which has recently become quite popular in mixed martial arts.

There may be a lot of swelling on the body which can appear both internally and on the surface. So joints may swell due to strain and impact or overextension. While on the outside there may be swelling to go along with all that bruising.

Much of this is a worst-case scenario, but anything is possible in a fight. So prepare for the worst and hopefully, it will never get to that level.

But in order to fix all of this damage, will require time and resources. And with 30 – 40 trillion cells constantly striving to repair the body and keep us on an even keel. We can at least imagine the amount of work going on to get us back to full fitness in this busy construction site that is the human anatomy.

How To Prepare For The Fight

If you notice that when most fighters enter the ring they are already sweating. This is because they have been working out and doing some pad work in the dressing room before they fight.

The reason for this is that they don’t want to enter the ring dry. Meaning their muscles haven’t warmed up and they haven’t broken a sweat. Which can increase the overall chances of an injury.

And during the fight, your body will have done its best to protect itself from being damaged. This will include tensing up in the areas under attack like the ribs, neck and legs.

Some MMA students warming up before they begin training.
Students in the gym stretch before class begins.

And as the muscles will be maxed out, this additional tensing compounded by heavy impacts can lead to the muscles being strained and even pulled. If we then add this with nerve damage, trauma and perhaps some lacerations to the outer skin.

You can see how injuries can compound as they being to mount up. So once the adrenaline has stopped pumping post-fight. This is when you will feel the effects of those however many minutes you just spent inside the ring or cage.

Post Fight Pain

We can get a good idea of what is going on under the hood as our body gets to work on the repairs. And we will then start to feel the effects when it begins to do its repairs. Sometimes days later in what is known as delayed onset muscle soreness.

As the body works its way through each of the injuries. Each will have its own sensation and pain threshold, all depending on what and where it is on the body.

And outside of any major injury that might require a visit to the hospital. The best things which are recommended by those in the know are as follows:

  • Get plenty of rest, including getting a good night’s sleep. Don’t sacrifice your downtime for some worthless late-night social media scrolling.
  • Maintain a good diet and ensure that you are putting only quality whole foods into your body.
  • Drink plenty of water so that you stay hydrated and clear out any toxins.
  • If needs be, go for a massage to help stretch out those sore and tight muscles. Nothing too hectic, just enough to loosen up and give you some relief.

Outside of all the above, it’s really just a question of letting nature do the rest. After all, she is the best doctor around and if you listen to her you will be back fighting fit in no time. Don’t and it may be a long road to recovery.


I think we have covered all of the bases in terms of why our bodies ache after a physical fight. It’s really all down to our injuries being dealt with by our own internal mechanics. As they work their way through each one and attend to it until it is back to optimum performance or as near as it can get.

The human body really is an amazing piece of machinery. It can adjust to the most extreme of situations. And prepare us mentally and physically for what is about to happen.

If trained and conditioned correctly it can absorb all kinds of punishment and then quickly bounce back. We just have to prepare correctly, fight to the best of our abilities and let our bodies do the rest.

Do all of the above and any post-fight body aches will be kept to a minimum. Providing, of course, you did not lose too badly. You know your body best and how far you can push it.

So take care, train hard and the best of luck the next tie you decide to test yourself.