Why is One Leg More Sore Than the Other? (Causes & Solutions)

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Tonya McIntosh

Tonya McIntosh—The main person behind TGFFitness as its Founder and Chief Editor. Get to know more about Tonya


If you’ve ever finished a workout and noticed that one leg feels much sorer than the other, you’re not alone. This muscle imbalance is often caused by factors like poor form, overusing one side, muscle weaknesses, or simple biomechanical differences between your legs. 

In this post, I’ll dive into the reasons behind uneven delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and muscle imbalances. I’ll also provide tips to help prevent and respond to lopsided leg soreness.

Key Takeaways
  • Muscle imbalances, injuries, and daily habits can lead to one leg being more sore than the other.
  • Addressing the underlying causes of leg soreness promotes better performance, reduced risk of injury, and improved posture.
  • The article will explore reasons for muscle soreness, how to respond, and factors contributing to leg weakness.

Why Is One Leg More Sore Than The Other?

Muscle soreness is a common sensation that occurs after strenuous or unfamiliar physical activity. 

You might have experienced this after a vigorous workout or trying a new exercise routine. 

It’s caused by microscopic tears in the muscle fibers and the inflammation that follows. 

This sensation usually peaks within 24 to 72 hours after exercise and resolves within a week. 

But have you ever wondered why one leg might be more sore than the other after a workout?

The reason could be that one leg is weaker, less flexible, or less coordinated than the other. When this happens, more stress and damage can occur to the muscle fibers of the sore leg during exercis

Why Some Muscles Get More Sore Than The Other After Exercise?

Certain muscles may become more sore than others after exercise if they’re more involved, more challenged, or more susceptible to damage during the workout. 

The type, intensity, duration, and frequency of the exercise can all contribute to this disparity in soreness. Additionally, your unique anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics may play a role in which muscles feel the burn more than others.

For instance, if you engage in an activity that targets specific muscles more than others, like running uphill or doing lunges, the muscles that bear the brunt of the exercise are more likely to become sore. 

Moreover, if a particular muscle group is relatively weaker or less developed, it may be more susceptible to fatigue and soreness post-workout.

Let’s not forget about biomechanics – your body’s unique alignment, movement, and balance. This can lead to some muscles working harder to compensate for imbalances in your body, thus experiencing more soreness after exercise. 

So even though both your legs were working hard during that workout, one leg might be taking on more of the burden due to your body’s inherent biomechanics.

How to Respond When One Muscle is More Sore Than The Other?

Identify the cause of muscle soreness

When one of your legs feels more sore than the other after exercise, start by figuring out the reason behind this. It could be due to muscle imbalance, injury, overuse, or other factors.

If you need more clarification on the cause, consider consulting with a doctor, physical therapist, or a local personal trainer.

Apply appropriate recovery strategies

Depending on the identified cause, you’ll want to adopt specific recovery methods to alleviate the soreness. 

For acute muscle soreness, follow the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, elevation). 

For chronic muscle soreness, consider the METS protocol (massage, stretching, foam rolling).

Prevent or reduce recurrence of muscle soreness

To avoid experiencing significant differences in soreness between your legs in the future, take steps to prevent muscle soreness or reduce its recurrence.

This includes warming up and cooling down properly before and after exercise, staying hydrated, eating well, and getting enough sleep.

You can also follow the FITT principle (frequency, intensity, time, type) for exercise prescription and the HENS principle (hydration, nutrition, sleep) for lifestyle modification.

Which leg usually gets more sore: Left or Right?

You might wonder which leg usually gets more sore after exercise and why. There is no definitive answer as it varies from person to person, but some factors influence which leg gets more sore:

  • Leg dominance: If your dominant leg does more work during exercise, it may get sore. For example, if you’re right-handed, your right leg may be stronger and more sore after a workout.
  • Leg preference: Depending on the exercise, you may prefer one leg for certain movements. For instance, if you repeatedly step forward with your left leg when lunging, it may get more sore.
  • Leg asymmetry: If one leg is weaker or less flexible, it may have to work harder and get more sore. Leg asymmetry refers to differences in strength, flexibility, or size between legs.

What causes one leg to be weaker than the other?

One of the main reasons could be differences in muscle mass, muscle strength, or muscle endurance between your legs. This imbalance can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:


Favoring one leg over the other or spending long periods inactive could lead to muscle imbalances. Make sure to engage in regular physical activity that involves both legs to maintain muscle balance.


Experiencing an injury in one leg could cause it to be weaker than the other, especially if you don’t fully recover before resuming regular activities. It’s essential to properly rehabilitate injured limbs and give them adequate time to heal.


Certain health conditions, such as arthritis or nerve damage, can affect your muscles and lead to imbalances in strength. If you suspect a medical condition is causing your leg weakness, consult a healthcare professional for advice.


Muscle loss and strength decline are natural processes that occur as we age. By staying active and incorporating strength training exercises into your routine, you can help slow down these effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes muscle imbalance?

Muscle imbalances occur due to poor posture, overuse, weak muscles, or inactivity, leading to strain on one leg more than the other.

You can correct imbalances by doing targeted exercises and maintaining good posture.

How do you identify the weaker leg?

Compare your legs in single-leg exercises and note any differences in fatigue or struggle.

Also, try balancing on each leg and observe any stability differences. Paying attention to these signs will help you identify imbalances to address.

Reasons for one leg being bigger than the other?

Reasons for one leg being bigger include muscle imbalances from overuse on one side, genetics affecting muscle growth distribution unevenly, or underlying medical conditions like atrophy.

Consult a professional if you suspect a medical condition is causing size differences between legs.

What to do when one leg feels stiffer?

If one leg feels stiffer, incorporate stretching exercises into your routine to increase flexibility and ease the stiffness.

Also, focus on strengthening the weaker leg to help reduce stiffness and promote balance.

See a professional if the stiffness becomes too painful or disruptive for evaluation.

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Chief Editor
Tonya McIntosh

Hello there! My name is Tonya McIntosh, and I’m the Founder and Chief Editor of TGFFitness. I’m also a NASM-certified Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer. With eight years of experience under my belt, I’ve found that one of the most common issues my clients struggle with is remaining consistent.

Finding your main motivator to keep going is easier said than done for Keep Reading.

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