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SHOULD I BE WORKING OUT WITH SORE MUSCLES?

SHOULD I BE WORKING OUT WITH SORE MUSCLES?

Ah that morning after exercise feeling. Stiffness, aching muscles, walking like someone forty years older. We’ve all been there.

Getting moving will ease stiffness, however much you may feel like a duvet day.

Moving is one thing, but do sore muscles mean no workout? Here’s the lowdown.

WHAT’S WITH THE ACHES AND PAINS?

That post-workout pain is due to the demand placed on your muscles by exercise. Believe it or not, we build muscle by damaging it. When we exercise to a higher level than normal, muscle fibres develop tiny splits. The pain is the body’s signal of ‘enough’, although it can take a while to develop. That’s DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness.

Tiny fibre tears are a natural part of muscle building. Rest days allow the tears to heal and increase fibre size. What you don’t want are big tears in muscle. That’s real damage so don’t push to that level.

It used to be thought that the pain was due to a build-up of lactic acid produced by muscles. However, we now know that the lactic acid disappears within 30 minutes of stopping exercise, so DOMS isn’t due to that.

HOW CAN I REDUCE THE SORENESS?

The honest answer is wait for it to go away. It will after a day or so. Meantime, gentle movement will ease things, so that duvet day definitely isn’t the answer! Go for a walk or do some gentle stretches after a bit of a warm up. Some people also find that massage is helpful.

IS IT OK TO WORK OUT WITH SORE MUSCLES?

The big question – and as usual, the answer is ‘it depends’. The best solution is to have a workout plan that rotates round muscle groups. You can work legs one day, then give them a couple of days off while you concentrate on your upper body.

Occasional muscle soreness is part of getting fitter. Vary your workout and don’t be ashamed of a day off.

Photo by James Barr on Unsplash

the author

Patrick Law

Patrick is a keen touch rugby and football player and regular gym goer. He also enjoys long-distance running.

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