This can happen to anyone. However, this most likely occurs when a person increases the intensity of exercise (similar to DOMS).
This is the burning sensation you feel in your muscles due to the buildup of lactic acid. This muscle ache typically disappears on its own as soon, or a little bit after, you stop working out.
Should I Work Out With Sore Muscles?
Alright, we have reached the main part of this post. Is working out while sore a good idea? Or is it overall a bad thing?
A good rule of thumb to determine if you should work out while having sore muscles is the level of your pain.
If you feel incredibly sore to the point where moving feels unbearable, don’t do it.
However, if you feel slight discomfort and can still do normal activities without too much pain, then working out while sore is, surprisingly, recommended!
I will go over this more in detail in the next section!
Best Workouts For When You Are Sore
If you want to work out while you are sore, you should do something called “active recovery.” This is when you do light resistance exercises, low-intensity workouts, or mobility strengthening.
While doing these light activities, you pump more blood through the muscles. This increase in blood flow can help ease muscle pain and allows you to have a faster recovery.
If you are a little stiff, a light-to-moderate workout session can help to loosen the stiff muscles. Here is a list of some light exercisesyou could do:
Stretching or resistance band exercises
Light cardio workout
Dynamic exercises (such as lunges, arm circles, etc.)
If you are noticeably sore, you can do one of the following:
Now, if you still feel very stiff and sore after doing a dynamic warm-up or some stretches, it would be ideal to rest.
The key to working out while sore is to listen to your body!
If you are feeling very sore, where participating in normal daily activities hurts, then you need a rest day. You might even need two to three days to rest, depending on how you are feeling!
Although it might feel tempting to hit the couch or stay in bed, you should not do this since it may worsen the pain and stiffness you feel. Try engaging in some gentle movements such as walking at the bare minimum.
This will help produce more blood flow to your muscle and ease some pain.
After you do rest, try to ease back into your workouts to prevent further soreness and damage to your muscles. You can participate in activities such as light cardio or a lighter version from the previous workout.
This could include lighter weights, fewer sets or repetitions!
However, if you do decide to work out while extremely sore, this can be a bad thing.
Remember those microscopic muscle fiber tears we talked about earlier? While these tears aren’t a bad thing, they do need time to repair and heal.
If you worked out at extremely high intensities, this will cause bigger tears and can prevent the muscle tear from healing properly.
You also run the risk of tearing the muscle even more, which will take longer to recover in return.
This is how working out while sore can be a bad thing.
Is Working Out While Sore Good or Bad?
So, what’s the verdict? Should I wait until my muscles aren’t sore to workout again? Or is working out while sore okay?
As I had said earlier, the most important thing is to listen to your body and try to engage in active recovery. Only you know how you are feeling. Listen to what your body is telling you when deciding if you should work out or not!
Muscle Soreness Recovery
Now, of course, you are probably thinking there has to be a way to help sore muscles recover right? Or maybe even prevent soreness to happen?
Well, friend, let me tell you how you can help a sore muscle recover and some ways to prevent (not completely get rid of) future muscle soreness!
How to Relieve Sore Muscles After a Workout
One of the best ways to help relieve some pain from the soreness you feel in your muscles is to foam roll immediately after.
This is due to a technique called self-myofascial release (SMR). This is used to release some tension in the connective tissues as well as in muscles.
If you are wanting to start a new workout or fitness routine, it is very important to take it slow.
Like anything, if you jump right into something new, you could risk the possibility of injury or extreme soreness by placing foreign stress on your body.
Let’s look at it this way, if you have never skied before, would you participate in a race down a busy slope? I sure hope not!
You would probably take it slow and make sure your form and technique are correct before engaging in anything else.
The same concept goes for working out!
#2 Gradually Build Intensity
Now, this goes along to the first tip. If you try a new workout, start with light weights, or a smaller interval time, or even a shorter workout in general!
Your muscles will grow bigger and stronger from the gradual increase in intensity. Once you can work at higher intensities, your chances of experiencing extreme DOMS lessens as you train your body more.
#3 Stay Hydrated
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
It is so important to continue to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout, no matter the intensity.
Although this sounds obvious, most of us tend to overlook this step. We get so caught up in the workout and keeping up the energy that we forget about staying hydrated.
If you want to learn more about how and why water is so important to our health, you can check out this article: How to Stay Healthy and Fit.
Spend about 5-10 minutes warming up your muscles with some dynamic stretching. This could include things like walking lunges, air squats, or high knees.
When you warm up properly, you essentially wake up your muscles and tell them you are about to get to work!
As for the cool down, this is where you can do some low-intensity cardio/walking or static stretching.
Static stretching includes things like runner’s stretch or crossing your arm across your chest and pulling.
This can help decrease the effect of DOMS as well as gaining more flexibility in your muscles and joints!
#5 Be Consistent
The final tip I have for you is to be consistent.
Don’t let the effects of DOMS or even acute muscle soreness stop you from doing the same workout again!
Continuously training your muscles will aid in growth and strength. But this can’t happen if you decide to do the workout one day, but never again after.
Muscle soreness is inevitable, especially when you begin a fitness journey or a new workout regimen. However, you will be doing future you a huge favor by staying consistent so you can prevent muscle soreness later on!
Final Thoughts on Working Out While Sore
Working out while sore can be a good thing! But it could also be detrimental when you don’t listen to your body. Knowing how sore is too sore to workout will be important towards your recovery!
Now, if you are wanting to start working out at higher intensities, especially now that you know everything about soreness, you can check out some of the workouts I have written down below! I also have other fitness tips as well!