Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is It OK To Workout With Sore Muscles?

photo credit: cszar via photopin cc
This is a question that comes up for everyone who works out, but especially for new exercisers. When you first start working out is when you're most likely to experience muscle soreness. It's also when you're least likely to know your body well enough to have a good sense whether it's safe to push yourself through the next workout.

If you want to err on the side of caution, you could choose not to workout again until the soreness is gone. However, this approach is not ideal. When you first start working out you will probably be sore. If you take days off every time you experience soreness you will never get past that beginner phase. If you can work through some of the soreness you'll improve your fitness and getting sore will happen a lot less often. It's sort of a catch 22, but that's why everyone isn't fit. So, you need to be willing to work through your soreness, but you've got to be smart about it if you want to avoid injury.

The good news is that working out with sore muscles can sometimes make you feel better. It gets the blood flowing and alleviates stiffness that contributes to the pain. 

Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to workout with sore muscles... 

What is the level of pain you're experiencing? Is it seriously hindering your ability to move and function in your regular daily activities. If you're at the level where certain movements are excruciating then take the day off or at least take the day off from working the specific muscle group that's really hurting.

What type of workout was it that made you sore? If your sore muscles came from a strength training workout then doing a cardio workout might be fine and could even relieve some of the soreness. Was it a cardio workout that got you sore? Since cardio often targets the legs,  it's likely you could do an upper body strength training workout.

Which of your muscles are sore? It's often possible to work around the sore areas. For example, if your pecs are sore from push ups you might be just fine working back and biceps.

Start slowly. If you're on the fence about whether your soreness is bad enough to keep you from working out then go ahead with the intention to try your warm-up and see how it feels. Chances are that you'll be feeling a bit better by the end of the warm-up and you're probably fine to continue. But proceed with caution. Pay attention to your body. If you get signals during your workout that tell you it's too much you may simply need to back off the intensity, move to another body part (if it's a strength workout) or just cut your workout short. Your body is boss. Do what it tells you. If you get to the end of the warm-up and you don't feel any better then take the day to rest.

Make sure to stretch. While I've read conflicting reports about whether stretching after workouts prevents soreness it does help maintain range of motion. Allowing muscles to tighten up is never a good thing. Take the time at the end of your workout, when you're muscles are nice and warm, to get in a good stretch.

Enjoyed this post? Sign up for updates (it's free!).

No comments:

Post a Comment