We've all had days after great workouts where you wake up the next morning and walking or getting out of bed seems like some form of torture (we’ve all seen leg day memes!). I had always wondered, if I ever have a workout and am not aching, does this mean I am not getting stronger?
To answer this, we first need to know what the soreness sensation actually is.
Why am I Sore?
You’re sore because you worked hard. When you work out your muscles are developing small tears in the fibers which is the result of a new routine or lifting heavy. This soreness that starts about 24-48 hours after your exercise is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). You are literally ripping your muscles apart in order to build them up and make them stronger.
How Long Should the Soreness Last?
The soreness should last no more than a few days generally after trying something new, getting back into a routine, etc. But you shouldn’t necessarily be sore after every workout. Just because you aren’t, doesn’t mean you won’t have any gains, it just means that your body is getting used to the wear and tear. But if you are sore, it’s advisable to take a break or work on another body part.
How Do I Feel Better or Prevent Soreness?
There is no way to prevent it, however if you continue to do the workouts you will eventually become less sore afterwards (however you should continue to switch up your routine, weights, etc in order to challenge your body). But you can also try doing foam rolling, stretching and light workouts (think Yoga) to help get back into the weight room quicker.
How do I Know if it’s Soreness or Injury?
Soreness is normal, pain is not, although they seem to feel almost the same way especially when you first get started. But once you know your body it’s easier to determine which is which. There are some key ways however to determine which it is. The easiest way, and probably the least fun is that muscle soreness will improve with stretching and movement and worsens with sitting still. Have you even just sat in a seat then went to get up? That’s soreness. However, pain and potentially injury will worsen with movement. Pain can last for more than 72 hours and that is indicative of an injury that you’ll want to get looked at if it doesn’t subside on its own.
Working out is the key to getting healthy and keeping your body and mind young. But sometimes the side effects of doing so seem too much to handle. The more you do it, the more you learn to love it. It’s a good kind of soreness, that which comes from working out as opposed to being sedentary, which creates pain, not soreness. Get up, get moving, and relish in all the glory of muscle soreness knowing that you are building a better you.