When you’re involved in a new activity or you strain your body muscle, soreness could occur. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) occurs 48 to 72 hours after you work out. There are chances of your muscle fibers getting small tears. The answer to the question “should you work out when you’re sore” depends on how uncomfortable your muscles feel, the type of workout you have done and how much effort you have put in.
Should You Work out If Your Muscles Are Sore?
The amount of soreness that you experience determines whether or not you should work out. But if you have an injury, your muscles require more time to heal and you’d better consult a doctor during the recovery time.
When Should You Keep Working out?
When you push your body to its limits, it is normal that you should feel some pain the next day. If you haven’t injuried yourself, soreness should disappear in a day or two. Meanwhile, you can do less intensive workouts like bike riding, taking a walk, doing yoga or swimming. In some cases, exercising sore muscles relives the aches as more blood flows into the muscles aiding the repairing process.
When Should You Stop Working out?
Muscle soreness occurs 48 to 72 hours after working out, and in some cases, 96 hours later. However, if you have hurt yourself, you feel the pain on the injured spot immediately. You may also get a bruise or a swelling. At night, the pain might awake you from your sleep. For an injury, the pain lasts for a longer time than workout soreness and you shouldn’t do any exercise as it might make the injury worse. See a doctor before going back to your workouts again.
How to Cope with Sore Muscles
Since you have the answer to “should you work out when you’re sore”, you may wonder what you can do to relieve the soreness.
1. Avoid Painkillers Before a Workout
Avoiding painkillers will let you know how your body is reacting to the workout and whether you are going too hard. If you take painkillers, you mask what your body is trying to tell you and the possibility of injury increases. But you can take OTC painkillers after your workout if you’re in pain.
2. Assess the Pain
If you feel oddly sore after a workout, it is best to rest first. If you have just started working out, aches and soreness in the muscles is normal. However, you should pay attention to the aches to figure out if you have injured yourself or if it’s normal soreness. If you feel any abnormal pains when you are working out, seek medical help as soon as possible.
3. Eat Protein After The Workout
Muscles are made of proteins so if you want to hasten the healing process, take proteins after a workout. This also helps you build up muscle more easily in the long run. Studies have shown that protein based dinks reduce muscle soreness compared to carbohydrate based drinks.
4. Alternate Your Workouts
Muscle soreness can be an excuse not to workout. However, you can still exercise the parts that are not sore. If your legs are sore you can work your abs or go for less intensive aerobics or yoga. You can follow this up with stretching as it helps reduce the tenderness and tension in your muscles.
5. Heat Therapy
Warm temperature encourages blood flow to the sore muscles. You can soak in a hot bath or if it is a specific part that is sore, you can apply direct heat. Most people use heating pads since they can stay for several hours and are thin enough to fit under the clothes.
6. Take Omega 3
If you have had a strenuous workout, you can take fish oil once a day. It can ease the soreness and inflammation for up to 48 hours after the workout. You can also eat foods rich in omega-3 like spinach, nuts and salmon.
7. Epsom Salt
Magnesium sulfate makes up Epsom salt which can drain excess water from the tissues and reduce swelling. Magnesium is also a natural muscle relaxant. Add one to two cups of Epsom salt in a hot bath and soak till the water has cooled. However, if you have heart problems, diabetes or high blood pressure, it is not recommended.
Watch the following video on how to recuperate from muscle soreness:
Preventing Muscle Soreness
- Warm up 5 to 10 minutes before you start working out and cool down for 5 minutes.
- Before workouts, stretch till you can feel the warmth of your muscle.
- Keep your body active – the more active your body is, the faster your soreness will go away.