If you are new to working out or are into very tough training, sore muscles are something that you will have experienced. But, if your muscles are feeling really sore, should you work out or take a few days rest? Let’s investigate!
What triggers muscles soreness?
Muscle soreness normally happens when you work out harder than usual, return to exercise after a long break or try a new exercise/workout. Soreness suggests you have asked your muscles to do more than they are used to.
Muscle soreness tends to be more severe in exercises with an intense eccentric component. Eccentric contractions are when your muscles lengthen under tension i.e. lowering a weight or running downhill. Eccentric contractions cause more muscle soreness than concentric contractions.
What causes muscle soreness?
Despite the fact that muscle soreness is so common, experts can’t really agree on what causes it. Theories include:
- The accumulated lactic acid that has not been flushed away
- Microscopic muscle damage
- A combination of the above
Muscle soreness normally comes on about 12-24 hours after working out, and lasts about 3-7 days, depending on how hard you exercised, and how susceptible you are to it. The one thing that experts agree on is that muscle soreness is not an indicator that you have had a good workout. It just shows you have done more exercise than before or done something unusual.
Preventing muscle soreness
There are several ways you can reduce or avoid sore muscles. After all, why be in pain if you don’t have to be? Good ways to reduce muscle soreness include:
- Warm up properly to get your muscles ready for exercise
- Increase the length and difficulty of your workouts gradually
- Take it easy if you are returning to exercise after a break
- Stretch after your workout, spending extra time on the muscles you have just exercised
- Consume plenty of protein after exercise to speed up the recovery process
- Use heat to reduce muscle soreness – heat packs, and warm baths and showers can help
- Get a gentle massage to increase circulation and relax your muscles
- Go for a walk to work the stiffness out of your muscles
Should you work out with sore muscles?
There is no reason not to work out if your muscles are sore. In fact, getting up and moving is probably the best way to alleviate muscle stiffness and pain. However, you should probably take it a little easier and spend extra time warming up to make sure your muscles feel loose and ready for your session.
Tight muscles may also mean you are unable to do certain exercises properly. If this is the case, use easier alternatives rather than risk injury because of poor exercise technique