If you’ve ever worked out, you know that pain can be part of the process. Your muscles get sore and your body aches as you begin to challenge it. You may wonder whether or not you should continue working out while you’re sore. The answer is yes, but responsibly. Let’s learn a little bit about how the body works first.
When you begin to exercise, especially any form of strength or endurance training, lactic acid begins to build up in your muscles. This is caused by a decrease in the amount of oxygen getting to your muscles. You know that term, “feel the burn?” That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
That burning sensation is just one reason why a cool down is so important to your workout routine. If you don’t let the muscles cool down and loosen back up, it’s similar to your muscles being wound up in a tight ball. Always cool down. It improves your recovery time and makes you more prepared for your next workout.
Sometimes, you may notice that you don’t feel any soreness right after your workout, or even the following morning. It may be a full 24 hours before the pain hits. This is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS for short. Anytime you’re lifting weights or doing more intense cardio like running or even HIIT, you are creating tiny tears in your muscle. These tiny tears are what create DOMS, but they are also what helps your muscle grow! More muscle means you are burning more calories at rest. It means you’re creating a stronger and more shapely body. In short, DOMS means you’re taking care of business!
So, what can you do when you’re body is sore? How do you keep going and meet your goals?
First things first. It helps to plan your workouts for the week in advance. If you know you’ll be doing an intense lower body strength workout on Monday, plan to do cardio, or even yoga, the following day. Both of these will help loosen up your muscles while keeping your body moving. If you really want to get in more strength training, work your upper body the next day and let your lower body rest.
I already covered part of this, but I’m going to expand on it. Your warm up and cool down play an important role in your soreness, recovery and overall results. Make sure you’re doing some active stretching and getting your muscles nice and warm before you jump into any workout. When you’re done, allow at least five minutes minimum to cool down. Don’t just walk away after your workout. You will be doing yourself a great disservice. Use your cool down to reflect on your workout. What went well? What can you improve on? Some workouts may challenge you more than others, but that’s no reason to quit.
In addition to planning your workouts ahead of time and including a good warm up and cool down, make sure you’re fueling yourself properly. If you’re strength training or doing intense cardio, make sure you get a good source of protein and carbohydrates right after your workout. The protein will help heal and grow your muscles, and the carbohydrates help shuttle some glycogen to your muscles. Glycogen is depleted during intense exercise so those carbs are important. Shakeology is the perfect post-workout treat because it’s easy to drink and requires little preparation. Other options to consider might be a vegetable omelette with a little sweet potato, or lean chicken with veggies and brown rice.
Now that you know a little more about muscle soreness and how to push through the pain, I’d love to hear about your experiences with this. How do you keep up your motivation when you’re sore? What do you do to help your body recover faster?