Should you work out when you’re sore?

November 05, 2021 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Do you ever have an intense workout and are sore the next day, but still want to work out? Is it okay to train while you’re sore or should you rest?

The answer varies from person to person and there are multiple factors to consider. For example, it depends on how sore you are and what type of exercise you want to do. Also, soreness is different from an athletic injury; being sore is uncomfortable but it shouldn’t be extremely painful. If you think you’re injured, contact your doctor.

There are two different types of muscle soreness. Acute muscle soreness is the pain felt during or immediately after a workout. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain that begins after you’ve worked out. This type of pain can typically last anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.

When an individual performs any type of high intensity exercise, they cause microscopic tears to their muscle fibers (this is how muscle is built). The body responds to this damage by increasing inflammation which leads to DOMS. Things such as foam rolling or stretching may help with these symptoms, but the only thing that will truly treat DOMS is time and rest.

Often people will gauge the effectiveness of their workout by how sore they are the next day, and this is simply false. There is no evidence that supports being sore equates to having a good workout.

Factors such as the number of repetitions (volume) and frequency of your workouts, as well as progressive overload (gradually increasing weight, frequency or volume) are all determinants of muscle growth. Being sore does not contribute to any of these things and being sore should not be used as a gauge for an effective workout. In fact, being sore will limit the body to perform at its highest abilities.

So how should you handle being sore when you want to exercise?

If you’re a little sore and decide you can work out, a proper warm-up is key to reduce the probability of injury. Also, don’t repeat the same exercise every day. Try to focus on different muscle groups to allow your muscles time to recover. For example, try an arm workout the day after a big run. Make sure to cool down after exercising and stretch. Drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated.

Soreness can be strictly genetic, and factors such as rest time may vary from person to person. Listen to your body’s response to the stimulus (working out). If you can train more often and are not affected by soreness, there is no downside to it.

Being sore is inevitable if you are starting a new training program or are new to the gym, so be sure to take it slow and respond to your body accordingly.

Need help with adopting a workout routine? A fitness specialist can help you develop a fitness program that works for you.

Drive your health forward at Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness.

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