Is it OK to exercise if you’re already sore?

Well – yes, and no.

Exercise isn’t always, well, comfortable. Particularly when we are experiencing DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness. This is the soreness we feel anywhere from 24-72 hours after a workout. DOMS occurs because we make small tears in the muscle fibers by putting added stress to the muscles. This is a good thing because our body then repairs these muscle fibers and in doing so, they become stronger. It’s the process. (Read more here!)

These muscles need rest and recovery time to rebuild before you stress them again.

Yes, you CAN exercise, but: do something different than what gave you the soreness in the first place. For example, if you did a bunch of pushups one day, don’t do them the next. Instead, switch to another body part to exercise and work on squats or pull ups instead. Likewise, if your legs are sore, give them time to recover and work on exercises that train your upper body instead.

Finally, what you may do when your muscles are sore and uncomfortable is a low-intensity active recovery session. Depending on the cause of the soreness (e.g., strength/weight training in the above example), this may look like an easy 30-min ride on a bicycle or cross-trainer such as an elliptical, a yoga or barre class, and more. Do an activity that differs from the activity that caused your soreness. The goal is to get the blood pumping through your muscles to help them recover and adapt to the demands that the previous workout placed on them. (Read more on this here!)

What do you do to recover when you’re sore?


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