Muscle Soreness After a Workout | Good or Bad?

Have you ever experienced soreness after a workout?! If you answered YES to this question, then you are probably among the majority of people who workout or have worked out before! Have you ever questioned if that soreness was normal? Or wondered how much soreness is too much? Well then you are in luck, because today’s blog post is ALL about muscle soreness after a workout, is it good or bad?!

Why do we get muscle soreness after a workout?

When we workout, we are putting stress and strain on our muscles. Of course, depending on the workout and intensity, different muscle groups will be under stress. This soreness is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS for short. This often happens 4-6 hours after doing new or more strenuous exercises. This also means that if you are an exercise newbie, you are definitely more likely to experience DOMS more often after a workout! The good news is that DOMS is completely normal! When working out, the muscle fibres begin to break down and lactic acid builds up in our muscles. The repair process of these fibres actually strengthens and grows our muscles. This means that you will feel some pain, but our muscles will be stronger and ready for your next workout!

How much muscle soreness is too much?

Although DOMS is completely normal, some pains we experience after a workout can be harmful. How do we know what pain is okay and what is not?!  Here are a couple tell tale signs that your soreness is too much:
  1. DOMS typically lasts for 24-72 hours. If the pain persists longer than 72 hours or is stopping or restricting you from making simple movements or completing daily tasks, that soreness is too much! 
  2. If you start feeling pain DURING or right after your workout, this is not a good pain! 

How do we fix these problems?

  1. If your pain persists past 72 hours, this is a sign that you could have overworked your muscles. Especially when first getting started with exercising, it is important to gradually build up the intensity of your workouts. Sometimes if we jump right into an extreme workout routine without much prior experience with exercise, we can end up over exerting ourselves and get unwanted pain. If extreme muscle soreness or pain persists past  72 hours after your workout, talk to your doctor!
  2. If you start feeling pain during or right after a workout, this can mean a couple of things. First off, it could mean you are performing the exercise with the wrong form. Depending on the exercise, this can cause us to potentially injure ourselves, most commonly affecting your back, joints or neck. If you are working out on your own, the best way to fix this is to watch yourself complete the exercise in the mirror and compare with the proper form to make sure you are doing it correctly. 
The second reason could be that the exercise is not right for you - yet! Some workouts require us to have a base of strength before we can complete them properly without injury. For example if your core is weak, when completing certain core exercises (such as a reverse crunch)we can end up using our back instead of our abs - which can cause back pain. Another example would be squatting holding too much weight.  How do we combat this? If the exercise has weights, lower your weights. If it is a body weight exercise try to find an alternative that can help build up the same muscle groups until you build up the strength to complete the original exercise without pain.   To help heal your muscles and ease some of that soreness, you can do a stretch or recovery routine. We have some great recovery workouts up on our Youtube Channel which are sure to help with those DOMS effects!

Should you workout with sore muscles?

There is really no set answer for this question! It all depends on how much pain you are feeling and if it is a good or bad pain. If you are having typical DOMS pain, or feel some stiffness, it is completely normal and okay to workout while feeling these pains. If you are having a tad more soreness and it is isolated in one area of the body, you can still workout, but be aware and try to workout a different muscle group to avoid overworking those muscles. Similarly, if you are feeling a bit of back or joint pain, avoid exercises that use those joints to give your body time to heal and avoid further injury. If you are feeling extreme pain then it is probably best to skip the workout for that day.