Muscles: How Sore is Too Sore?

Being sore after a workout is common, especially if you are new to exercising. Muscle soreness is a normal part of making the body stronger and you will feel it from time to time. Rather than let it derail your exercise routine, learn how to best work through it or make efforts to avoid it altogether.

Is it safe to exercise if you’re sore?

Your decision should be made based on the symptoms you are experiencing and the severity of soreness.

If you are experiencing mild soreness, a workout with active recovery exercises such as walking and stretching may be beneficial on days following muscle soreness. An active recovery can also include light resistance exercises (such as core-strengthening workouts), low-intensity cardio (such as walking or yoga), and a quality full-body stretching regimen with extra attention on those sore muscles. Light physical activity leads to more blood pumping through the muscles and the increased blood flow may help to recover sooner.

Injury vs. Soreness

To maximize your exercise gains and minimize injury risk, it is very important to be realistic about the amount of exercise your body can handle. You should be able to differentiate between moderate muscle soreness and pain.

Soreness can be uncomfortable. You might experience symptoms such as tenderness when touching the muscle, a tired or burning feeling when exercising, or a tight and achy feeling when at rest. The onset usually starts 24-72 hours after activity and lasts around 2-3 days.

Pain, on the other hand, will ache or may be sharp when exercising. You are likely to feel this in your muscle and your joints. This type of pain is most often experienced during exercise or within 24 hours of activity. If not addressed, this pain may linger and lead to prolonged pain and injury.

On the bright side, there are a number of tips to help prevent muscle soreness. Avoiding soreness begins immediately after exercise with a proper cool down. Bring down the heart rate with 5-10 minutes of light cardio (jogging or cycling) or gentle movement (yoga or Pilates) and gradually return the body to a resting state. Intentionally stretching the muscles to clear lactic acid aids in the reduction of soreness. You can further release muscle tension by performing some foam rolling on the muscle groups used during your workout.

In most cases, gentle recovery exercises are safe and beneficial for faster recovery. However, it’s important to rest if we are experiencing symptoms of fatigue or are in pain. Including rest and active recovery days into your workout regimen can help you to recover faster and continue building a stronger body!

Key Word: Soreness

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