Should I be sore after every workout?

iStock_000008573421MediumThis is a question commonly asked by clients new and old who are disappointed if they don’t feel sore in the days following what seemed to be a grueling workout. And maybe you feel the same.

It is important to understand that the soreness and tight muscle feeling experienced post workout is actually a result of fine tears in the muscle fibers following a workout. This is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS, and feelings of this are usually felt more between 24 – 48 hours post workout and usually found to be a result of strenuous resistance or weight session or when new activities are performed or introduced into the workout pattern.

One thing I explain to clients is that soreness is not always an indicator of a good workout, a hard workout yes but if you are sacrificing technique and lifting or simply performing beyond your means then that is where we need to stop and re – think your training methods as this is where you can actually be doing your body more damage than good. By introducing a new workout pattern or by simply changing your exercise routine it is common to feel sore for the first few workouts but the more you carry out the routine and get used to the patterns performed, the soreness will eventually subside.

If soreness is felt, it’s probably a good idea to recover before your next session unless working individual or categorising your training by exercising muscle groups, for example performing upper body movements on one day and then lower body movements the next. However, it is important to realise that it is not necessary to feel sore after every workout to get results and by continuing to train in pain can actually lead to overtraining. For more information on overtraining and how to identify it please visit the blog section of my website.

How do I prevent DOMS?

There is really no way to prevent muscle soreness but there are ways to power up your energy levels and decrease the symptoms, this can be achieved by dynamic stretching, the use of foam rollers or trigger point release methods by using a devices such as tennis or rubber balls and by introducing light activity into your rest days to help with blood circulation which allows your muscles a quicker recovery time.

My current clients will tell you that I believe in the ‘keep moving’ method, you don’t have to be powering up your workouts all the time, by adding in lighter forms of exercise you are actually allowing your muscles to recover and prepare you for your next workout. Try even throwing in a rest week or for those who lift weights regularly remember to use the de – load method every 3 – 4 weeks to ensure proper recovery and prevent running your body into the ground. I know for the heavy lifters this will seem like a waste of time but it will prevent over doing it day in day out, which can lead to overtraining and perhaps injury.

Remember the more you exercise the less sore you become and the more your body adapts to the stimuli you throw at it. Therefore changing up your workout patterns allows for more adaptations so by increasing the difficulty of your training patterns, by either adding extra weight, reducing or increasing resting times between intervals or sets or changing up other key components like sets, reps and tempo of the exercise can all lead to helping you achieve positive results by keeping your body asking “What are you going to throw at me next?”

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