5 Things You Need to Know About Muscle Soreness
Sore muscles are both a blessing and a curse of leading a fit lifestyle. It shows that you’re pushing yourself to new limits and building muscle mass, but then there’s that whole walking thing when your legs feel like they could possibly fall off at any moment.
It’s a bittersweet phenomenon, and there are actually a lot of myths surrounding being sore after a tough workout. (For example, an ice bath isn’t proven to enhance a quicker recovery post-workout, so you can go ahead and skip the ice cube-filled tub.)
Read on to discover five more important details to remember when it comes to sore muscles.
- How does it happen? When you exercise, tiny tears occur in the muscles fibers, and as they repair, inflammation and soreness can happen, according to Fitness Magazine. It’s completely normal and a sign that your muscles are growing and strengthening, but there is such thing as too sore, so listen to your body and don’t overwork it.
- How sore is too sore? If you’re unable to participate in your normal activities, like jogging or even pushing your grocery cart, without experiencing excruciating pain or discomfort, that’s a good sign that your muscles have gone beyond a normal level of soreness and into stress, instead. Your muscles work hard when you exercise, but if they’re pushed too far, they’ll push back in pain levels. As soon as regular activities become strenuous, take note and ease up on the workouts.
- What can help reduce pain from soreness? Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to decrease soreness. From proper hydration and nutrition to a five-minute post-workout cool down and active recovery: https://www.weider.com/blogs/news/the-importance-of-active-recovery-between-exercise-intervals (otherwise known as stretching between sets or taking walks on “days off” from the gym), there are several ways to expedite the muscle fiber healing process.
- What if I’m not sore right away? It’s possible to experience soreness up to 36 hours after a tough workout, and this is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. This type often occurs when you push yourself harder than normal or try a new exercise that is extra-challenging, most often in heavy-weight training. It’s nothing to be concerned about unless your soreness reaches that “too sore” level.
- How do I know if I’m injured, or just very sore? A good buffer zone is two days of soreness. If you still feel tight, tender, or in real pain on day three, it might be best to rest and ease back in to your normal workout routine after a couple more days. (Of course, a visit to the doctor is also warranted if the pain lasts any longer, too.) Pushing yourself too much while the muscles are already vulnerable to injury could lead to serious consequences, like muscle pulls or tears.