Have you ever tried a new exercise or pushed yourself a little harder than usual and the next day you wake up and can’t lift yourself out of bed?
This stiff pain is known as delay onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It usually starts the day after a new or difficult workout, and lasts for a couple of days. If your pain lasts longer than a few days, it’s likely more than just soreness and you should rest or see a doctor.
I personally love this feeling because it is proof that exercising and strength training make our bodies stronger. This stiff pain comes when the body works to repair the tiny little tears in our muscles caused by eccentric contractions (muscle lengthening under a load) in our workout. Once repaired, the muscle is stronger than it was before so if you did this workout again you would be much less sore, if at all.
You can prevent DOMS by doing a warm-up before starting your workout and making sure your exercise progression is gradual (for example, if you did a bicep curl with 10 pounds last week don’t jump all the way up to 20 this week).
If you do end up getting sore, I would recommend holding off on working that muscle until it is back to normal for a few reasons. You want to make sure it’s just soreness and not injury, and you also want to get the most out of your workout, which you won’t if your muscles are too sore to push.
Work on another muscle group until you’re back to normal. If your legs are sore, do an upper body workout or go for a swim. If your arms are sore, do a lower body workout or some cardio like running/cycling.
Soreness isn’t fun but it’s a good reminder that you worked hard and your muscles are growing!
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