You just had a killer workout–You’re feeling great, feeling strong–Then boom, you wake up the next day and you can’t get out of your chair without feeling sore. But then wait–The next day you wake up and you’re even more sore! What gives? A lot of people ask me this question, so here’s your honest answer.
Soreness isn’t a terribly awful thing. As a personal trainer, my goal is to never make you so sore that you can’t walk up and down stairs without wanting to cry, however, soreness is a sign of re-growth, so it’s sometimes necessary for change.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) refers to the gradually increasing discomfort that occurs between 24 and 48 hours after activity, and it’s perfectly normal! DOMS typically occurs when you’re doing an exercise that stresses the muscle tissue beyond what it’s accustomed to.
To put this in perspective, if you decide to do 50 lunges with dumbbells instead of 10 lunges with dumbbells, or do sprints down and uphill, you’ll most likely feel soreness the next day–This is the result of DOMS.
If I’m constantly feeling sore, I must have a long way to go with exercise, right?
Wrong! Everyone experiences this, even the most advanced bodybuilders. The muscle discomfort is simply a symptom of using your muscles and placing stresses on them that are leading to adaptations that make them stronger. You don’t grow if you constantly work within your comfort zone.
It’s OK to be sore, and it’s best to work with a personal trainer for guidance when you’re unsure about technique and increasing weight.
How do I alleviate pain? I can’t workout because I’m sore for days!
Unfortunately, there’s no magic remedy that will immediately get rid of pain. However, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, massage, heat and stretching have been known to help.
My foam roller is the best piece of equipment I’ve invested in–it’s perfect for sore muscles. Simple stretching won’t always do the trick.
Even though you’re sore, you can still take on light exercise–Walking, jogging and swimming are great exercises to do while you’re sore, they actually might help. Reducing the intensity and duration of training, or training different muscle groups for the days following will give the affected muscles time to recover.
The best thing you can do when you’re sore is to not overtrain. If your legs are so sore you can’t walk down the stairs, don’t go to the gym and lift more weights, adding more stress to those muscles. Do some light cardio at most.