I’m still sore from my last workout! Should I skip the gym today?
We get it: sometimes the last thing you want to do is workout with sore muscles! But should you?
First, let’s discuss why you feel achy the day or even two days after a grueling workout (think: Build my Body Beautiful’s Bootcamps…ouch!).
The phenomenon of burning muscles has a name: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (or DOMS). Intense exercise causes small tears in the muscle fibers: a necessary precursor to growing stronger, fitter muscles. In response, a low level of inflammation can occur in the muscle, as its cells begin to repair themselves.
While uncomfortable at the time, this is a natural part of developing a fit firm body and is nothing to be concerned about. Just give your muscles some time to heal for maximum benefit: 24-48 hours is usually sufficient, so even if you’re still feeling the burn, training after that recovery window won’t cause any lasting damage.
Make sure you can tell the difference between DOMS and something more serious
DOMS usually feels like a burning, achy soreness. Your muscles may feel tight and uncomfortable. This sensation shouldn’t extend to your joints and/or produce sharp, stinging pains, as this might be a sign of an overuse injury. In the latter case, visiting your doctor or physiotherapist may be wise.
How can you reduce experiences DOMS
DOMS are the worst when you’ve just started your fitness journey, but even experienced lifters can get the pains from a new or more challenging routine. Treating the sore muscles to a massage, hot tub, Epson salt bath or sauna session can work wonders. While you may feel this is a time to rest, low-level activities such as a brisk walk or cardio like a light jog or a bike ride can actually help!
If you’re not sore, you may still have had an effective workout
Overtime, our muscles get used to our activity level and don’t produce the same amount of inflammation. If you were initially experiencing DOMS but now recover easily, this doesn’t mean you have to take up extreme power lifting to continue your progress! Make sure your workout is challenging each time but increasing your weights, reps or workout time gradually. Ask your trainer or bootcamp coach about ways to challenge yourself!