7 Reasons You Feel So Sore After A Night Of Drinking (2023)

Perhaps you went into last night with the intention of exercising a little bit of self-restraint, determined to leave the happy hour after just a few glasses of wine and at a reasonable hour. Or perhaps discipline was never part of your plan: Your best friends were heading to your favorite dance bar, and after an especially demanding week, you wanted shots, and lots of them. Either way, the state in which you awoke today — well, let’s just say you’ve been better. Or no, let’s just say it as it is: Not only is your head pounding and mouth parched, but your entire body aches after drinking.

If you’ve ever decided to, say, indulge in a number of alcoholic beverages that would horrify your doctor, chances are, you’ve probably woken up the next morning feeling physically sore after drinking. You’ve also, in all likelihood, spent hours racking your brain, trying to figure out how the hell you managed to end up in such a state. “Did I wipe out on the stairs?” you might’ve wondered, or, “Did those six tequila shots somehow cause permanent damage to my muscles?” While no one else can help you put all pieces of your puzzle together (like whom you made out with or how many drinks you ended up chugging), science can reveal several reasons why drinking makes your whole body hurt the next day.

Blame It On The Alcohol

Everyone knows large amounts of alcohol are not good for the body. But according to a study in the journal PLOS One, heavy drinking on a night out can actually cause gut bacteria to make their way out of the stomach and release damaging toxins into your bloodstream. These so-called endotoxinsmess with your immune system, and your body starts taking nutrients from your muscles.

So that explains why your arms and legs hurt after drinking.You might feel like you've been hit by a bus, but it's just those endotoxins causing your muscles tofeel so tender.

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Heels Might Not Have Helped

You knew you would regret strapping on those new black pumps the moment you stepped out of your apartment. But you had to wear them. Your outfit would've looked dumb if you wore flats. And now you (and your feet) are paying the price.

As Live Science notes, choosing to wear high heels every day can actually change the way your feet are formed. (Don’t panic: As long as you save heels for special occasions and weekend nights, this probably hasn't happened to you.) High heels do, however, raise your ankles and force the calf muscles to contract. Just make sure you stretch as soon as you wake up the next morning if you don't want any lasting damage.

Dancing All Night Was A Workout

Due to the DJ's amazing playlist mixed with one too many margaritas, you probably didn't notice the leg workout you were getting on the dance floor. All you cared about was forcing everyone to scream "Wagon Wheel" andavoiding the sweaty person trying to kiss you.

But the dancing, paired with the miserable 20-block walk home, took a toll on your glutes and quads. Dancing is fun, and it can help shape and tone your body — that’s why party workouts and dance classes are super popular. So, even if you missed your morning spin class, at least your butt and legs make it feel like you went?

Alcohol Slows Your Muscle Recovery

Alcohol does more than just make you dial your crush and get in a fight with a bartender: It also messes with thebreakdown of lactic acid in your muscles.Ring any bells?

Lactic acid is the stuff your high school soccer coach brought up when everyone complained about being sore during the first week oftryouts. Scientific American points out that lactic acid is produced during demanding exercise, but it isn't the buildup making your muscles hurt. It’s the way it’s broken down.

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Did you manage to fit in a long run before the pregame started? Well, those three shots you took in a row are going to mess with how the lactic acid is broken down hours later. Combine this with all the other unfortunate side effects of drinking, and you certainly aren't going to be feeling great the next morning.

You’re Dehydrated From Drinking

Yeah, yeah. You've always been told to alternate your drinks with a glass of water and drink a big glass before you pass out. But I bet you can count on one hand how many times you've successfully managed to do both those things.

Instead, you've probably had eight beers within a span of two hours and gone to the bathroom at least three times during the same timeframe. You kept having to pee because alcohol decreases the amount of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) your body makes. And because you're peeing so much, you're becoming dehydrated.

When you're dehydrated, your muscles aren't happy.

So unless you're down to obsessively monitor your drinking habits, you better have a Gatorade and two massive water bottles next to your bed.

You Might Have A Minor Electrolyte Balance

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Let’s say you not only neglected to drink water throughout the night, but you also spent a few hours hugging the toilet. According to Dr. Daniel Kim of the Medical Offices of Manhattan, it’s possible you now have an electrolyte imbalance, which occurs when the levels of electrolytes in your body are either too high or too low, and “can happen as a result of fluid loss and dehydration.” Electrolyte imbalances have been shown to cause muscle soreness and cramps, because electrolytes — like potassium, magnesium, and sodium — help ensure that your body functions properly. One study, published earlier this year in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, found that people who consumed electrolyte-enhanced drinks both during and after exercising — another activity that can throw off your electrolyte levels — were less likely to get muscle cramps than participants who drank pure water.

While electrolyte imbalances can be serious, if you think you’re suffering from one after a night of heavy drinking, you probably didn’t throw off your electrolyte levels too drastically. Just try drinking a Gatorade or another electrolyte-enhanced drink, and that should do the trick.

Your Whole Body Is Inflamed

When your body is fighting injury or infection, you’ll likely experience inflammation, which is part of the body’s natural healing system. However, sometimes your immune system revs up in absence of an injury and illness, and goes on to attack itself.

According to Kim, heavy drinking can exacerbate overall inflammation in the body, and this increase can be the reason behind muscle cramps the following day. Usually, this “depends on the person's ability to metabolize alcohol and it’s toxic byproducts,” Kim says, adding that muscle cramps are a common hangover symptom “if you are not drinking enough water along with the alcohol.” If you’re worried about your inflammation levels, “it is important to replenish all the lost fluids from excessive alcohol intake,” Kim tells Elite Daily.

Once more for the people in the back: The benefits of drinking water while consuming alcohol cannot be overstated!

Studies:

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Lau, W. Y., Kato, H., & Nosaka, K. (2020). Effect of oral rehydration solution versus spring water intake during exercise in the heat on muscle cramp susceptibility of young men. https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-96830/v1

Bala, S., Marcos, M., Gattu, A., Catalano, D., & Szabo, G. (2014). Acute binge drinking increases serum endotoxin and bacterial DNA levels in healthy individuals. PLoS ONE, 9(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0096864

Dezman, Z. D. W., Comer, A. C., Narayan, M., Scalea, T. M., Hirshon, J. M., & Smith, G. S. (2016). Alcohol consumption decreases lactate clearance in acutely injured patients. Injury, 47(9), 1908–1912. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.injury.2016.03.007

Epstein, M. (1997). Alcohol’s Impact on Kidney Function. Alcohol Health and Research World, 21(1), 84–92.

Experts:

Dr. Daniel Kim of the Medical Offices of Manhattan

(Video) Leg pain at night treatment | Hindi|Dr Rashmi MD

This article was originally published on

FAQs

Why do I feel achy after a night of drinking? ›

Why are muscle aches and muscle pain a symptom of hangovers? What is going on in your body to make your muscles sore? This can happen due to multiple factors including dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, the body's breakdown of alcohol into toxic metabolites and overall increased inflammation in the body.

Why is my body so sensitive after drinking? ›

Alcohol intolerance occurs when your body doesn't have the proper enzymes to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. This is caused by inherited (genetic) traits most often found in Asians. Other ingredients commonly found in alcoholic beverages, especially in beer or wine, can cause intolerance reactions.

Can drinking too much cause soreness? ›

Alcohol can make the body ache

Alcohol can worsen existing joint pain and lead to body aches and cramps as a result of dehydration.

How do you get rid of soreness after drinking? ›

Drinking water, juice, broth and other nonalcoholic beverages to reduce dehydration. Getting sleep to counteract fatigue. Taking antacids to help settle your stomach. Trying aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to help your headache or muscle ache.

What should you eat when hungover? ›

10 Of The Best Foods To Cure Your Hangover
  • Toast. Carbs are an essential hangover cure, and toast is an easy source that can be found in most office kitchens. ...
  • Coffee. If you love your coffee, drink up. ...
  • Bacon and eggs. ...
  • Pizza. ...
  • Fresh fruit. ...
  • Juice. ...
  • Cakes, chocolate and munchies. ...
  • Coconut water.
14 Jan 2022

How do you cure a hangover fast? ›

There is no such thing as a small stroke…
  1. Drink fluids. ...
  2. Get some carbohydrates into your system. ...
  3. Avoid darker-colored alcoholic beverages. ...
  4. Take a pain reliever, but not Tylenol. ...
  5. Drink coffee or tea. ...
  6. B vitamins and zinc.

Why do muscles hurt after drinking? ›

Usually, your liver tries to get rid of the lactic acid. However, when you have been drinking, the lactic acid may take longer to leave your body because your liver is trying to get rid of the alcohol instead. The lactic acid can then linger longer than usual and cause extra muscle pain and cramps.

Can you suddenly become alcohol intolerant? ›

It's possible to develop an alcohol allergy at any point in your life. Sudden onset of symptoms may also be caused by a newly developed intolerance. In rare cases, pain after drinking alcohol might be a sign that you have Hodgkin's lymphoma.

What are the first signs of liver damage from alcohol? ›

Symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD)
  • feeling sick.
  • weight loss.
  • loss of appetite.
  • yellowing of the whites of the eyes or skin (jaundice)
  • swelling in the ankles and tummy.
  • confusion or drowsiness.
  • vomiting blood or passing blood in your stools.

Why are legs sore after drinking? ›

People who drink too much may start to feel pain and tingling in their limbs. This is known as alcoholic neuropathy. In people with alcoholic neuropathy, the peripheral nerves have been damaged by too much alcohol use. The peripheral nerves transmit signals between the body, the spinal cord, and the brain.

Can alcohol cause muscle and joint pain? ›

With time, the toxins in alcohol can cause damage to muscles and joints. With more frequent drinking, these problems can persist and become serious.

What helps reduce inflammation from alcohol? ›

If you've been drinking alcohol, you should drink water to quickly get rid of bloating in your face and stomach. In fact, drinking water before, during, and after drinking alcohol can help prevent its inflammatory effects on the body. If you're feeling bloated while drinking alcohol, switch over to drinking water.

Do hangovers get worse with age? ›

Yes, studies show that your body's ability to process alcohol gets less efficient as you age. Key body functions that help metabolize alcohol, like liver enzymes and total body water weight, tend to decrease with age.

What is the best hangover drink? ›

Want to gain an edge over plain old water to treat your hangover? Consider reaching for Gatorade, Pedialyte, Powerade, or a similar nonfizzy sports drink. These drinks are packed with certain minerals called electrolytes — such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium — which help regulate fluid levels in the body.

How do I get rid of lactic acid? ›

Ways to Get Rid of Lactic Acid
  1. Decreased exercise intensity.
  2. Resting.
  3. Taking deep breaths during exercise.
  4. Active recovery or low-intensity movements, such as yoga, walking, biking, or foam rolling.
9 Dec 2021

Is Coke good for hangover? ›

"When you're hungover, you need to hydrate your body. The way you feel – that headache – it's mostly caused by dehydration. Something like Coca-Cola has lots of sugar and fluids and will put those back into your body to get your energy levels up. The caffeine will also give you an energy boost."

What should you not drink with a hangover? ›

Morning beverages, beware, orange juice and coffee can be harmful to hangovers. "You also want to avoid citrus since it's harsh on your stomach," Tager said.

What fruits help hangovers? ›

There's evidence that the natural sugars found in honey and natural fruits can actually help you move the alcohol out of your system faster. Try eating mangos, grapes, oranges, pears and plantains. Watermelon is also another great option since it has such a high water content and it can help you rehydrate.

Is a hot shower good for hangover? ›

It definitely wakes you up and gets your circulation going again. But not everybody relishes the idea. On the other hand, showers that are too hot are best avoided, as they tend to make you feel tired and weaken your body even more – and taking a hot bath with a hangover is a definite no go.

Is ibuprofen good for hangover? ›

Aspirin or ibuprofen

Over-the-counter painkillers can certainly help ease hangover headaches and the aches and pains you may feel elsewhere in your body after a night of heavy drinking.

Is a cold shower good for a hangover? ›

Cold Showers Ease Hangover Symptoms

As uncomfortable as it sounds, taking a cold shower actually has a lot of health benefits. Taking a cold shower, especially after you soak in a warm hot tub will increase your circulation and raise your heart rate. This will also help your body get rid of the toxins from the alcohol.

What does alcoholic myopathy feel like? ›

Clinical Manifestations

Clinically, acute alcoholic myopathy is characterized by weakness, pain, tenderness, and swelling of affected muscles.

What is an alcohol intolerance? ›

Alcohol intolerance occurs when your body doesn't have the proper enzymes to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. This is caused by inherited (genetic) traits most often found in Asians. Other ingredients commonly found in alcoholic beverages, especially in beer or wine, can cause intolerance reactions.

What alcohol does to your muscles? ›

Drinking alcohol after a workout prevents efficient healing of the muscles by decreasing the secretion of the hormone. As a result, you will feel sore longer and have to wait a longer time period for your muscles to fully heal. Binge drinking also plays a role in decreasing your gains from the gym.

What is alcohol flush? ›

Some people who drink alcohol experience an unpleasant phenomenon called the alcohol flush reaction. The primary feature of the alcohol flush reaction is a red face—or flush—but it can also be accompanied by hives, nausea, low blood pressure, the worsening of asthma, or an episode of migraine.

What are the signs of histamine intolerance? ›

Histamine is associated with common allergic responses and symptoms.
...
Symptoms of histamine intolerance
  • headaches or migraines.
  • nasal congestion or sinus issues.
  • fatigue.
  • hives.
  • digestive issues.
  • irregular menstrual cycle.
  • nausea.
  • vomiting.

How do you prevent a alcohol flush? ›

The best way to prevent flushing is to drink less alcohol. Choosing drinks with lower alcohol content and drinking water are also helpful ways to manage this reaction. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about how to manage your reaction to alcohol.

What are the 3 signs of a fatty liver? ›

Symptoms
  • Abdominal swelling (ascites)
  • Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin's surface.
  • Enlarged spleen.
  • Red palms.
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
22 Sept 2021

How do I know if alcohol has damaged my body? ›

Generally, symptoms of alcoholic liver disease include abdominal pain and tenderness, dry mouth and increased thirst, fatigue, jaundice (which is yellowing of the skin), loss of appetite, and nausea. Your skin may look abnormally dark or light.

Why do my bones hurt when I drink alcohol? ›

In addition, a routine alcohol consumption can cause fat deposition in blood vessels and reduce the blood supply to bone tissues, leading to necrosis or cell death. Another major disadvantage of alcohol consumption is dehydration, which causes reduction in joint lubrication and worsening of joint pain.

Is alcohol an inflammatory? ›

Alcohol is a toxin that can cause damage at the cellular, tissue, and organ levels. Consuming alcohol can trigger inflammation across the entire body, including in the gut, liver, face, joints, and brain. Alcohol can cause two types of inflammation: acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.

Why does my upper back hurt after drinking alcohol? ›

So, drinking alcohol can cause dehydration and reduce the amount of water in your intervertebral discs. This loss of water in your spinal discs can lead to pain from discs rubbing together or from the discs pressing on nerves around your spine.

What are the 5 classic signs of inflammation? ›

Based on visual observation, the ancients characterised inflammation by five cardinal signs, namely redness (rubor), swelling (tumour), heat (calor; only applicable to the body' extremities), pain (dolor) and loss of function (functio laesa).

What drinks cause inflammation? ›

Beverages rich in sugar, artificial sugars and other chemicals can cause inflammation. Some examples are sweet tea, soda, alcoholic beverages, energy drinks and sugary coffees.

Which alcohol is good for arthritis? ›

Red wine contains a compound called resveratrol, which has potent anti-inflammatory effects. Studies show that red wine consumption is associated with a reduced risk of knee-related osteoarthritis. It can also cut risk factors contributing to rheumatoid arthritis.

What foods make hangover worse? ›

Worst Foods for a Hangover
  • Greasy Foods. Although this is a popular hangover cure, grabbing something greasy can actually do more harm than good for your hangover because fried foods irritate the stomach.
  • A Drink. Most people will wash away their hangover with a bloody Mary, Irish coffee, or a mimosa. ...
  • Too Much Coffee.

Should you eat a lot when hungover? ›

' What you are feeling are the effects of dehydration and low blood sugar. To bring your blood sugar back up to normal, you really just need to eat anything with some carbs, but balance it out with protein or healthy fats to prevent further blood sugar drops,” she says.

What happens the morning after you get drunk? ›

Typical symptoms include fatigue, weakness, thirst, headache, muscle aches, nausea, stomach pain, vertigo, sensitivity to light and sound, anxiety, irritability, sweating, and increased blood pressure. A hangover can vary from person to person.

Does puking help hangover? ›

Throwing up naturally after drinking may help relieve symptoms of excess alcohol in the bloodstream. Generally, a person may feel better after throwing up the alcohol. If a person throws up shortly after drinking, the body may not have absorbed the alcohol, potentially lessening its effects.

How much water does it take to rehydrate after drinking? ›

Have at least one 16-ounce glass of water with every 12-ounce beer or 4 to 6 ounces of liquor, for example. Water can replenish your fluids and help you stay hydrated. Stick with light-colored drinks.

How long does it take to rehydrate after drinking alcohol? ›

In general, however, it usually takes about two hours for your body to rehydrate fully after drinking a significant amount of water. As for how you should rehydrate, water is the best choice.

What are 3 symptoms of lactic acid build up? ›

Muscle ache, burning, rapid breathing, nausea, stomach pain: If you've experienced the unpleasant feeling of lactic acidosis, you likely remember it. Lactic acidosis caused by intense exercise is usually temporary. It happens when too much acid builds up in your bloodstream.

Are bananas good for lactic acid? ›

Bananas are rich in carbohydrates essential for muscle repair as well as in magnesium that helps fight lactic acid build-up in the body.

What vitamin helps lactic acid? ›

Magnesium for Lactic Acid

Magnesium in the diet or through supplementation might prove beneficial in reducing lactic acid buildup during vigorous exercise, according to HealthLine. Magnesium in the diet comes from foods such as legumes, nuts, leafy green vegetables and whole grains.

What helps reduce inflammation from alcohol? ›

If you've been drinking alcohol, you should drink water to quickly get rid of bloating in your face and stomach. In fact, drinking water before, during, and after drinking alcohol can help prevent its inflammatory effects on the body. If you're feeling bloated while drinking alcohol, switch over to drinking water.

What happens the morning after you get drunk? ›

Typical symptoms include fatigue, weakness, thirst, headache, muscle aches, nausea, stomach pain, vertigo, sensitivity to light and sound, anxiety, irritability, sweating, and increased blood pressure. A hangover can vary from person to person.

Can alcohol cause muscle and joint pain? ›

Heavy Drinking Causes Inflammation

Autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can massively impact the joints. While having a few drinks is usually okay, heavy drinking can have inflammatory effects, making symptoms worse.

Can drinking alcohol everyday cause joint pain? ›

Alcohol's inflammatory effects can aggravate both degenerative joint pain from osteoarthritis and auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis may flare up in response to a particular type of whiskey or beer. Alcohol's effects on immune function can also inhibit normal joint healing.

What are the first signs of liver damage from alcohol? ›

Symptoms of alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD)
  • feeling sick.
  • weight loss.
  • loss of appetite.
  • yellowing of the whites of the eyes or skin (jaundice)
  • swelling in the ankles and tummy.
  • confusion or drowsiness.
  • vomiting blood or passing blood in your stools.

What are the 5 classic signs of inflammation? ›

Based on visual observation, the ancients characterised inflammation by five cardinal signs, namely redness (rubor), swelling (tumour), heat (calor; only applicable to the body' extremities), pain (dolor) and loss of function (functio laesa).

What drinks cause inflammation? ›

Beverages rich in sugar, artificial sugars and other chemicals can cause inflammation. Some examples are sweet tea, soda, alcoholic beverages, energy drinks and sugary coffees.

Why do hangovers get worse with age? ›

Yes, studies show that your body's ability to process alcohol gets less efficient as you age. Key body functions that help metabolize alcohol, like liver enzymes and total body water weight, tend to decrease with age.

What is the best hangover drink? ›

Want to gain an edge over plain old water to treat your hangover? Consider reaching for Gatorade, Pedialyte, Powerade, or a similar nonfizzy sports drink. These drinks are packed with certain minerals called electrolytes — such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium — which help regulate fluid levels in the body.

Which alcohol gives the least hangover? ›

Vodka is known to be the best alcoholic beverage for the most minimal hangover. Gin, light rum and white wine are runner-ups—with brandy and whiskey being at the bottom of the list.

What does alcoholic myopathy feel like? ›

Clinical Manifestations

Clinically, acute alcoholic myopathy is characterized by weakness, pain, tenderness, and swelling of affected muscles.

Why do my bones hurt when I drink alcohol? ›

In addition, a routine alcohol consumption can cause fat deposition in blood vessels and reduce the blood supply to bone tissues, leading to necrosis or cell death. Another major disadvantage of alcohol consumption is dehydration, which causes reduction in joint lubrication and worsening of joint pain.

What alcohol does to muscles? ›

Studies have shown that alcohol consumption reduces muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which reduces the possibility of gaining muscle. It has also been revealed that alcohol negatively modifies hormone levels and decreases the body's metabolism, meaning the capability to decrease body fat becomes delayed.

Why do muscles hurt after drinking? ›

Usually, your liver tries to get rid of the lactic acid. However, when you have been drinking, the lactic acid may take longer to leave your body because your liver is trying to get rid of the alcohol instead. The lactic acid can then linger longer than usual and cause extra muscle pain and cramps.

Why do my legs hurt when I'm hungover? ›

People who drink too much may start to feel pain and tingling in their limbs. This is known as alcoholic neuropathy. In people with alcoholic neuropathy, the peripheral nerves have been damaged by too much alcohol use. The peripheral nerves transmit signals between the body, the spinal cord, and the brain.

What drinks make arthritis worse? ›

A study in 217 people with rheumatoid arthritis noted that among 20 foods, sugar-sweetened soda and desserts were the most frequently reported to worsen RA symptoms ( 2 ). What's more, sugary beverages like soda may significantly increase your risk of arthritis.

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