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How Sore Should You Be After A Workout?

Have you ever heard someone say  “no pain, no gain” when referring to a workout? Have you ever wondered if this saying is true? The answer is, it depends.

Pain during or immediately following exercise, for one, is typically bad news. But soreness that comes several hours after your workout is usually a good thing. Check in with your body during and after your workouts by asking, “Am I feeling pain – or am I feeling like my muscles are working and that’s making me tired?” The two are very different. Pain is a warning signal that something is not right with your body; tiredness and soreness are signs of using a muscle to its full capacity.

There are two types of muscle soreness:

1) Acute Muscle Soreness – This is the muscle soreness your feel during and shortly after a workout

2) Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – also referred to as DOMS, this is the muscle soreness you feel 24 hours after your workout, which may last up to 72 hours.

Most people start to see DOMS subside in three days, but it could last a bit longer depending on how much you challenged yourself. If you tried a brand new workout, you could be sore for as many as five to seven days.

How to treat muscle soreness:

1) Rest – Getting ample sleep can help your body recuperate faster. Not getting enough sleep will make your muscle soreness feel more intense.

2) Move your body – This may seem counterintuitive, but by moving our bodies with light exercise will not only alleviate the pain, but help reduce soreness faster. Consider activities like a light jog, walking on an incline on a treadmill, and swimming, which help promote blood circulation to your muscles.

3) Stay Hydrated – Water can help flush out the toxins so the more water you drink, the better. Not drinking enough water can cause the soreness to worsen, or even cause muscle cramps.

4) Proper Nutrition – A balanced diet may help reduce muscle soreness. If you are deficient in potassium, an electrolyte which is essential for muscle contractions, or you are not eating enough protein, muscle soreness may take longer to heal.

5) NSAIDS – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Aspirin, or Alleve, can help reduce the pain of soreness, but does not speed up recovery. It’s not advisable to use these medications on a consistent basis to treat muscle soreness, only to help relieve the pain of an intense bout of soreness.

6) Other Methods – Topical gels like BenGay, or Icy Hot3 can also be helpful to alleviate the pain, but they have no affect on the underlying muscle. Other muscle soreness treatments such as such as ice, cold baths, Epsom Salt, massage, or light stretching have not been proven to either reduce pain significantly, or speed up recovery. But they may be worth a try because it doesn’t matter what the research says if it works for your body, right?



What if I don’t feel sore, am I working hard enough?

Answer is, it depends. Muscle soreness is not an indicator of a good workout. Nor, does it indicate that your workout was effective. As our bodies adapt and as we become fitter, muscle soreness may lighten. We may become tired after a workout, but not sore, and that’s ok.

Some exercises may make different muscles sore depending on how fit you are. So, don’t worry if you’re not sore after a workout.

The best way to determine if your workouts are effective is by measuring your progress. Can you hold a plank for longer than you had previously? Are you increasing the weights your using in your workouts?

Still have questions about your workout routine? Confused about your diet? Need help putting it all together? Schedule a 15 minute Discover Call to see if our program is a good fit for you.

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