Training with sore muscles: good or bad idea?

After sweating it out at the gym or running, you may sometimes feel sore. You may feel tight and sore as you try to use your muscles to do things. Some people might be happy about it, because having sore muscles generally means you’ve been pushing yourself hard while training. You may laugh about it as you go to work or do household chores, but the painful feeling doesn’t go away. It doesn’t get better the next day either. Does this mean you should rest or exercise while you’re still in pain?

Delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) is a common condition that can cause pain and stiffness in an exercised muscle, explains fitness expert Varun Rattan. It is caused by muscle damage that usually occurs during a lifting session and usually occurs 12 to 72 hours after a training session, depending on the individual. DOMS can also cause possible loss of strength in the muscles and stiffness in the affected joints, reducing mobility.

Sore muscles after a workout can happen to anyone. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

There are some factors that can increase the chance that you will suffer from sore muscles after training:

• Perform a physical activity that your body is not used to.
• Start a new fitness program.
• Make changes to your exercise routine.
• Increasing the intensity or duration of exercises.

It is true that beginners or someone who has started training again after a long break usually experience soreness in the first few weeks of training. But even an experienced gym-goer can experience soreness when increasing exercise volume or intensity or trying a new exercise regimen.

Should I exercise if I am in pain?

If you are in pain or experiencing symptoms of fatigue, simply rest. Rattan says it is not advisable to exercise with sore muscles if the pain is debilitating and limits mobility and strength. In such cases, it is recommended not to train that muscle hard again for about 10 to 14 days. Sometimes pain can prevent you from reaching proper lifting positions, making the performance of a compound lift less efficient. Practicing the lift with poor form can lead to poor motor learning.

How to train with sore muscles

While pain can be a nice feeling for hardcore gym addicts, it doesn’t mean you’ll stimulate more muscle growth. It means that your body is not used to that amount of physical stress, says the expert.

sore muscles
It is not good to exercise if your body hurts a lot. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here are some tips you can follow:

• Mobility work at the end of training is a good idea.
• Some light exercises that involve the sore muscles can increase blood flow and transport of nutrients to them, speeding recovery.
• Short and multiple bouts of light to moderate physical activity, such as walking or cycling, may be helpful.
• Foam rolling the affected muscles can also help reduce pain. It’s similar to massage, so it can promote blood flow to the muscles and help reduce inflammation.
• Avoid the use of painkillers as they can impede recovery and hinder adaptation to training.

Usually, DOMS does not require medical treatment. It only takes a few days for the pain to disappear. So be patient and take as much rest as possible. And if you’re trying a new type of exercise or training for the first time, do it slowly at first. If you gradually increase the intensity and frequency of exercise, you may not experience soreness after a workout.

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