Getting back into an exercise routine can be tough, we know, but it can be even harder when, after the first few days, you are extremely sore and your body is fatigued. If you take a few days off to recover, would you fall right back into your slump? This question brings us to today’s topic…
Should You Work Out If You’re Sore?
When we exercise, our muscles experience quite a bit of physical stress and actually experience tiny little microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. It is believed that these tears are what cause our muscle soreness post workout. This soreness can be experienced by beginners or even the most experienced athlete alike.
Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, is a normal part of any workout. This generally settles in within 24-48 hours after a workout and can make even the simplest of tasks a little uncomfortable, but that soreness doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch all day to recover!
Getting your body moving again the day after a tough workout can actually help to alleviate the aches and pains that come along with it. When planning your workouts for the week, keep in mind the muscles you want to focus on daily. For instance, if you worked legs on Monday, it would not be conducive to do another leg workout on Tuesday. Doing this could result in injury or breakdown of muscle tissue. Maybe try a workout focusing on the upper body. Similarly, if you did a higher intensity, full body workout on Friday, use Saturday as an ‘active recovery’ day. Focus on doing some light cardio, such as walking or swimming, or taking a gentle yoga or stretch class.
While there is no ‘cure’ for this muscle soreness, there are a few ways to help alleviate those stiff achy muscles; ice, heat, massage, foam rolling, stretching and anti-inflammatory medicine should help. Also, keep in mind that a gentle cool down and stretch session post workout will help to prevent some muscle soreness the following day.
As always, check with a doctor before starting any exercise regimen and if you find that muscle soreness feels worse than it usually does or it doesn’t dissipate over time, it may be something other than DOMS. It is important to differentiate between moderate muscle soreness post workout and muscle overuse or injury.
– Brittanie M., Exercise Physiologist at Dedham Health