Sore Muscles? Don't Stop Exercising
Delayed onset muscle soreness is common after exercise and usually means your muscles are getting stronger.
Ease Those Aching Muscles continued...
"When muscle temperature is increased, blood flow
increases, bringing fresh oxygen and healing nutrients to the injured
site," he says. "This increased blood flow also helps to wash away the
chemical irritants responsible for pain."
While sore, don't expect to set personal records. Most likely,
during a bout of DOMS, your exercise potential will be out of reach, says
Draper. Delayed onset muscle soreness usually affects only the body parts that
were worked, so perhaps you can work other muscle groups while letting the
fatigued ones recover.
In a nutshell, don't beat yourself up. Just take it easy.
"Since there's a loss in muscle strength, athletic
performance won't be at peak levels for a few days," says Torgan, "so
it's best to plan a few days of easy exercise to prevent further muscle damage
and reduce the likelihood of injury."
Don't Get in a Rut
It's also a process of muscle conditioning. Torgan says delayed
onset muscle soreness also has a "repeated bouts" effect.
"If someone does an activity, they will be inoculated for a
few weeks to a few months -- the next time they do the activity, there will be
less muscle tissue damage, less soreness, and a faster strength
This is why athletes often cross-train and vary their routines
to continue to challenge and develop their muscle strength.
It is important to distinguish the difference between moderate
muscle soreness induced by exercise and muscle overuse or injury.
"If soreness prevents you from performing daily activities
associated with living and work, then that is too much soreness," Draper
says. "It can psychologically deter someone from continuing a workout
Both Draper and Torgan stress that soreness is not necessary to
"There are all kinds of different little roads that your
muscles can take to get stronger," says Torgan. Regardless of whether
you're sore, there are still improvements occurring in your muscles during
However, moderate muscle pain might go a long way to keeping
someone on the path to fitness.
"Soreness can serve as encouragement in a workout program
because people like immediate results. Muscle doesn't visibly [grow] overnight;
nor does your time in the mile drop from eight to six minutes," says
Draper. "So something like soreness can give people encouragement that they
are in fact working the muscle."