Muscle soreness – something I’m sure EVERYBODY can refer to. Even if you’ve never stepped into a gym, I’m sure that sometime in your life, you’ve done some sort of exercise / heavy work (mow the lawn, paint the house, wash the car, etc) – and experienced muscle soreness. Wanna know why you get sore? Then read on.
24 hours to 48 hours after a hard workout, most people begin to experience soreness in the body parts trained. This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS.
DOMS is caused by tiny microscopic tears that occur in the muscle as a result of high-intensity exercise (such as weight training, intense cycling, etc). After the workout, the muscle begins to rebuild itself (provided it is allowed enough time and nutrients to recover). This is the rebuilding process which creates new muscle that is bigger and stronger than before. In other words, your muscles are growing. Your muscles grow when you are at rest – not when you’re at the gym.
DOMS pain is different from the burning sensation and pump you feel during a workout and also different from the pain you get from an injury. DOMS is often used as an indication of a productive workout as it means you’ve trained intensely enough to break down muscle tissue .. and now, as a result, you will be rewarded with new muscle growth.
Beginners who have never practised before would experience quite severe DOMS at first. However, the human body is an amazing thing and even the beginner’s body will slowly adapt to the workload and eventually – these episodes of soreness will be less severe. Remember the first time you blasted your biceps in the gym, only to realize that you could barely hold a pencil to write on a piece of paper the next day? Well, do you still experience such soreness today? Understand what I mean?
We need to constantly ‘shock’ our body with new routines and progressive overload in order to constantly and steadily stimulate muscle growth. Expect the soreness to return every time you try something new at the gym though.
Now a question I’ve been asked too often:
What if I’m still sore from my previous workout? Should I still train?
I say if the soreness is very minor, then yes – go ahead and train right through it! As blood gets in the area and your body temperature increases, the remaining soreness will dissipate. Those of you who are so kiasu and addicted to the Les Mills classes that it’s practically impossible to discourage you from skipping a class would be able to relate to this – the soreness going away as you start exercising again.
However, if there is a substantial amount of soreness remaining from the last workout, this is a sign that you have not reclaimed enough and your body is still ‘healing’. Listen to your body and take it easy .. maybe just go for cardio and skip the weights for the day. You can probably reduce soreness by stretching the body part AFTER the workout and by getting circulation into the area with cardio. However, if you constantly ignore the signs and if you keep training and ‘breaking down’ muscle tissue before it has a chance to recover, the effect will be the opposite of what you want – you will get weaker and smaller.
Although you cant achieve the same level of soreness all the time, personally, I consider soreness to be an indication of a successful workout. I also consider the complete dissipation of the soreness as a sign of full recovery. There are some who may not agree with me but then again, this is how I train by experience.
I’m quite content with the soreness I’m experiencing in my back right now as a result of the mean barbell rows I attempted last night … Could definitely do with a good backrub …