I often hear people complaining about being sore after a workout. You have one school of thought that believes that if you are not sore then you haven't worked out hard enough. And at the other end of the spectrum thinks that if you are sore you have overdone it.
So How Sore Should We Be After A Workout?
I believe that both have very credible arguments. For example, if you are training as a body builder and the goal of your workout is to put muscle on, then being sore after a workout will be a regular and necessary occurrence for you. You will hear the expression "I trained my legs so hard on Monday I can barely walk today!".
For the sports person who is "in season" being sore is very bad news. Being sore will negatively affect recovery and performance. I can tell you from experience there is nothing worse than playing football and feeling like you are carrying two cylinders of cement in your legs from overdoing it in the gym.
So what about the regular person who works, socialises regularly and fitness is maybe not the number one priority? Should they be sore after a workout? When they first start, I would say yes. It is almost unavoidable. After say, two weeks or settling into a 2/3 day a week training routine the soreness will start to wear off.
For the average Joe training in a sustainable way for life, I would lean towards training hard, but perhaps not to the point where they are sore for days afterwards. For these people, training "movements" rather than overloading individual muscle groups is far more efficient and effective. You may feel stiff a day or so after the session, but not to the point where you can't move.
If we train so hard we are sore days after a session this can add to our stress. Exercise is a stressor after all and if we are highly stressed then training ourselves to the point where we feel bruised and wearing a straight jacket is not going to help. It can affect our sleep and overall recovery.
What We Know About DOMS
DOMS, otherwise known as delayed onset muscle soreness, is where our muscles feel bruised, tired and heavy. This is not lactic acid but micro tears in the muscle that will be undergoing repair. Interestingly the latest research on interval training and lactic acid buildup shows that lactic acid has nothing to do with why we get that burning sensation when we exercise hard. In fact, the sports scientists don't actually know what it is.
"When we exercise at a high intensity we get out of breath and our arms and legs get tired".
What We Can Do To Reduce Muscle Soreness
- Sports massage
- Epsom salts bath
- 400-600mg of magnesium before bed
- Light stretching/ mobility work
- A good nights sleep (7-9 hours if possible)
Yours In Health
Founder of Leaner