Should You Exercise When You’re Still Sore from Your Last Workout?

Should You Exercise When You're Still Sore from Your Last Workout?

We know better than anybody how hard it is to start a workout program!  We witness it everyday!

Finding the time to exercise!  Creating a routine that you can stick to! Setting goals!

And then when you are finally in that mind set …and hitting the gym…DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) will likely set in know, the onslaught of stiffness, soreness and tenderness in our bodies…and it may feel difficult to stay on track.

What is DOMS?

DOMS—delayed onset muscle soreness, is exactly that—delayed. Unlike acute soreness (which is pain that develops during the actual activity), delayed soreness begins to develop 8-24 hours after the exercise has been performed, and may produce the greatest pain 24-72 hours following the workout. While muscle pain may be the most obvious indicator that you’re suffering from DOMS, other common symptoms can include:

• Swelling of the affected limbs

• Stiffness of the joint accompanied by temporary reduction in a joint’s range of motion

• Tenderness to the touch

• Temporary reduction in strength of the affected muscles (lasting days)

HAVE you ever heard someone use DOMS as an excuse to take a day off training?

Or possibly as the reason why they are whining and groaning as they walk down the stairs?

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain and stiffness that is generally associated with strenuous exercise. To be more specific it is brought on more with the eccentric part of the exercise (when the muscle is lengthening rather than shortening).

The exact mechanism of DOMS is still not well understood, but most people who lift regularly have their own thoughts on the process. Most regular lifters trying to gain muscle look at DOMS as a goal to know they have worked the muscle hard enough to encourage it to grow stronger.

What we do know is that exercise consisting of eccentric contractions of the muscle create micro trauma. This may effect calcium, lactic and inflammation levels within the muscle. All resulting in increased sensitivity or pain.

So should we train if we have DOMS?

Firstly, remember that by lifting weights, you are stressing your body in the hope of a beneficial adaptation to that stress.

In English, that means our bodies adapt when they are challenged. But if you challenge it too much, it will fail. The younger you are generally the more you can be pushed, pulled and prodded before something tears or snaps.

Generally when training with DOMS:

— Give sore muscles time to rest. Work the antagonist muscle. One day work your pull muscles, the next day work your push muscles and give the pulling muscles a rest.

— Get yourself a massage and encourage blood flow.

— Do some gentle cardio exercises instead. Swimming is great to flush the muscles!

How can I alleviate the effects of DOMS?
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any way to avoid the onset of DOMS completely. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.

1. Active recovery
Active recovery (AR) focuses on completing an exercise at a low intensity, but high enough to increase blood flow and enhance the clearance of enzymes responsible for muscle damage and residual fatigue, thus helping to minimize the symptoms of DOMS.

2. Repeated exposure to the same exercise stimulus
Just as I mentioned one of the causes of DOMS being an unfamiliarity with a certain movement or exercise, it stands to reason that the more you expose yourself to that stimulus, the more the body will adapt—making the effects of DOMS less intense.

3. Make sure your diet is on point
Eat fresh, organic, nutritionally dense foods. This gives your body the building blocks to forming strong, resilient, inflammation-resistant tissues.

4. Post- stretching
Stretching activates the muscle and increases body heat and blood flow, which helps to provide your muscles with nutrients that can reduce soreness.

Check out some of the best post-stretching exercises with Dustin right here:

Lastly, ask yourself these questions before training if you are still sore from the day before:

— Is this my normal feeling of tenderness or does it feel like I’ve actually strained or torn something?

— Does the pain ease up fairly quickly once I’m warmed up and blood pumping or is it still sore? If it’s still sore then I would keep the exercise very light.

— Is it just sore to stretch or is it sore when I contract it? If it’s sore on contraction it is possibly a sign that there is more damage there such as tendinitis or a strain.

— Is there any bruising? This is usually a sign of a strain/tear.

Of course if any injuries are suspected, make sure you see a great sports chiro, physio, osteo or acupuncturist who can assess and help to encourage correct healing and prevent recurrence.

Train smart and keep the balance when stimulating the body to adapt to challenges without over challenging. You’ve got one body, make it strong and keep it that way. Look after yourselves!

One of our FAVORITE things to do to help sore muscles is taking an Epson Salt Bath. Click here to find out why –>

We hope this helps you in your fitness journey!

Have an awesome day,

Emily, Dustin and The Get Fit Now Team

2 Responses

  1. Eliza

    Eliza October 28, 2015 at 7:54 pm | | Reply

    Perfect timing!!!
    Today I woke up thinking about asking this same question to Dustin or Emily.
    Thank you so much for the article.
    It was very helpful.

    Carla Eliza
    PS.: By the way, besides the Epsom salt bath I got a massage yesterday, which made a huge difference. After the session I was able to walk.

  2. Martha

    Martha January 6, 2017 at 9:55 pm | | Reply

    Thank you so much for this information! I have been feeling terribly sore these days and was thinking on emailing the gym to see what to about it.

    This was very helpful!

    Thanks again.

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