Artist: nortonrsx

The Dos and Don'ts of Dealing with Muscle Soreness

by John Harris Fitness

Intensive training sessions or starting a new workout routine can often lead to the discomfort of muscle soreness the next day. Some believe that feeling sore implies a successful workout, while others think soreness indicates overexertion. So, what's the truth? Does muscle soreness equate to a productive workout, or should you ease off and train more gently next time?

Understanding Muscle Soreness

The first question to address is why we experience muscle soreness and what exactly happens to our muscles. While it was once a mystery, experts largely agree that muscle soreness results from micro-tears in the muscle fibers. These tiny injuries typically heal within a few days. They cause delayed pain because muscles lack pain receptors. The pain is only felt once the inflammation products are transmitted to the nerve endings outside the muscles, usually on the day after the exertion and often even stronger on the second day.

Is Muscle Soreness Beneficial?

Experiencing mild muscle soreness after a challenging workout or unfamiliar movements is normal and doesn't necessarily mean something was done wrong. However, if the muscle soreness is severe, indicating a more significant muscular injury due to overexertion, it's time to reevaluate your training approach. Either the workout was truly too intense or the movements were performed incorrectly. In both cases, it's advisable to consult an experienced fitness trainer and adjust your training accordingly.

Exercising with Muscle Soreness

Since muscle soreness represents an injury that needs time to heal, it's wise to take it easy. Stiff muscles might limit certain movements, and the pain can lead to incorrect exercise form. However, for mild muscle soreness, gentle passive stretching, aqua gymnastics, or moderate spinning could be beneficial.

Another strategy is to train different muscle groups on different days, allowing the previously stressed muscles to rest while others are trained.

Preventing Muscle Soreness

A moderate sports massage after exercise can reduce muscle soreness. Similarly, applying cold treatments immediately after training can decrease the risk of muscle soreness. It's also crucial to stay hydrated during workouts and warm up properly.

Artist: nortonrsx

Dos for Muscle Soreness

If muscle soreness has already set in, the following tips can help:

  • Sauna sessions: Heat promotes blood circulation and thus healing.
  • Sports balms like horse balm can support muscle healing.
  • Your diet also contributes to recovery. Protein-rich foods provide the building blocks for muscle fiber regeneration.

Don'ts for Muscle Soreness

  • Intense stretching: Strong stretching routines can worsen the pain. Especially before exercising, avoid passive stretching. However, after exercise, light stretching can be helpful.
  • Intensive massages might aggravate the injured muscles with pressure and extend the healing time.
  • You shouldn't train the sore muscles with the same intensity. However, light training is possible with mild soreness.

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