Waking up the day after a good workout with sore muscles is success to many athletes minds. It means you got in a challenging workout! Yes! But what does that mean for today’s workout? Most people push through the soreness and work up a good sweat, but could pushing through only lead to injury? Is it possible to be too sore to keep working out?
Post workout pain is commonly known as Exercise Induced Muscle Damage. The pain and soreness you feel 24 to 48 hours after a workout is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. Doms is most frequently felt when you begin a new exercise program, change your exercise routine, or dramatically increase the duration or intensity of your exercise routine. This pain doesn’t mean you’re weak, actually, it means that your muscles are rebuilding and becoming stronger. In order to become stronger though, they need time to recover. Some people ignore their bodies request for recovery and push through anyway. What they don’t realize is that working out damaged muscles can actually set them back and set them up for injury. For example, a recent study had seven recreational athletes complete a five-minute cycling time trial before and after a round of muscle-damaging jumping exercises. Researchers found the cyclists expended more energy and covered less distance during the second trial, all while pedaling on sore legs.
So what should you do to recover? Well, the first thing you should do, as hard as it is, is to simply rest. On a rest day my favorite thing to do is to give my muscles a soothing ice bath. Very popular with long-distance runners, ice baths have many benefits including suppressing inflammation and a quicker return of blood flow. If you can afford it, get a massage! Pamper yourself and relieve your sore muscles at the same time. Massage has been shown to decrease pain without interfering with muscle function. Stretching or yoga can help to loosen your muscles, but if you go with yoga make sure it’s a gentle practice such as hatha yoga. If you really can’t sit still and fight the urge to work out, try working your muscles that aren’t sore or go for a short walk, but be careful that you aren’t overtraining and setting yourself up for even more soreness.
Yes, you can definitely be too sore to workout, but remember that rest should be part of your overall workout plan. Eat well, rest and you’ll be back in the weight room even stronger than before.