So you finally built up some well-deserved confidence, made it to the gym, tried some new things, logged in a hardcore workout, and went home feeling super accomplished and swole. And then you wake up the next day and you can’t move.
What is Soreness?
That soreness and tightness you feel long after a tough workout is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. This is a bit different from the soreness you may feel during and right after a workout, known Acute Muscle Soreness, which goes away within a few minutes or hours.
DOMS usually kicks in 24 to 48 hours after a new exercise session. This is why you may feel even more sore two days after a particularly grueling workout, or the first time back into it after a long break. Have no fear, It usually goes away within a week.
Why Am I Sore?
Both types of soreness are caused by muscle damage from exercise. Don’t worry! This damage is perfectly normal and is part of the reason we exercise in the first place. When we work our muscles they become damaged, and then they can repair themselves and grow. This muscle growth can lead to increases in strength, size, and endurance, depending on your fitness goals and how you work out.
Soreness from DOMS is a result of the way our bodies work to recover from this damage. The body’s inflammatory response causes muscles and connective tissue to stiffen and tighten, leading to pain when further exerted.
But feeling that delayed soreness doesn’t necessarily mean you had a great workout. What it does mean is that your muscles are not accustomed to that type of exertion level, and they’re working to recover. If you try out a new exercise or a new level of intensity, your muscles may be more sore as they learn to adapt to this higher workload.
Is Soreness Bad or Good?
While soreness isn’t directly bad for you, if you’re consistently and constantly sore, it may be a sign of a larger issue. It could mean that your program is not consistent enough in working out certain areas of the body, or that your body is not able to adequately recover and adapt after exercise. Both of these can be remedied by examining your diet and exercise programs.
Because of this, feeling sore for days after a workout should not be a goal. Continually feeling sore can also damper your progress. When you’re sore, it’s harder to continue working out as your muscles are trying to recover. Your muscles are tight and in pain, and generally harder to move. Minimizing soreness is key to maintaining muscle fitness.
How Can I Get Rid of Soreness?
You can’t really do much to stop soreness directly, your body needs to recovery and it will go away in time. But there are some things you can do to lessen the symptoms, help your body recuperates effectively, and ensure that you can jump back into working out again soon.
Warming up and priming your body for exercise with stretching may help lessen your chances of getting DOMS. Foam Rolling or Myofascial Release is a great mobility tool, both for warming up and recovery. Some folks swear by a tool like the Normatec Compression Boots to help get moving again after severe soreness.
2. Freeze It
Cold is a great way to relieve some of the symptoms of soreness. Cold Showers and Ice Baths after tough workouts can help the body reduce inflammation and the symptoms involved with this soreness.
3. Move Your Body
By exercising the whole body regularly, you can actually work to prevent recurring soreness. New movements and new intensities are most likely to lead to DOMS, so keep the whole body moving consistently to feel great.
4. Go Slow
If you move up in intensity too quickly, more damage can occur which leads to a more drastic recovery process and experiencing DOMS. Go slow, following a reasonable progression plan, and it should help you feel this soreness less often.
5. Work Through It
While it may cause more pain at first, working out while sore may help speed up the recovery time. Don’t push yourself too hard! A lighter workout at lower level and intensity can help keep your body moving.
Overall, soreness isn’t necessarily bad, but it isn’t really good either. While DOMS can be a marker that your body is working harder in a new way, it’s not a goal to aspire to. Keep exercising, listen your body, and take care of it between work outs.