Like a lot of people this past year, you’ve been riding a health & fitness wave. You try to be active and exercise as often as you can. Sometimes you go to the gym, sometimes you do home workouts, and maybe you go running. However, throughout your fitness journey, you’ve noticed something that seems as though it should be a concern. You do a fantastic workout, but the next day you wake up feeling really stiff and sore. In some cases, the pain is so much that you can barely walk or go about your regular tasks.
Is this normal? Is post-workout soreness something to be worried about?
Why do you get sore after workouts?
Firstly, post-workout soreness is normal! In most cases, you shouldn’t worry about it as it represents a natural reaction to exercising your muscles. When you work your muscles, the muscle fibres will basically break apart. This sounds horrific, but it’s totally normal. What happens next is the muscle repairs itself and grows back bigger and stronger. That’s basically how you get bigger and more toned muscles!
So, post-workout soreness is just a reaction to all the hard work you put into the session yesterday. Ironically, it can be seen as a good thing as it’s a sign you worked really hard!
When is post-workout soreness a bad thing?
You need to recognise when the soreness stops being good and becomes bad. Sometimes, you can feel sore after a workout because you’ve damaged a muscle in a bad way. This will usually be a sprain, though it could be a muscle tear or ligament damage. Either way, it results in a lot of pain and soreness.
Typically, you will notice muscle soreness almost straight away. It can happen during the workout or straight after. For example, if you’re off on a run, you may feel tightness in your hamstrings. When you finish, you’re limping around and the muscle feels really sore and tight. There could also be some bruising in severe scenarios. Here, you have almost certainly done some damage and need to see a specialist. Also, if the soreness persists for more than a few days, it’s another sign that this isn’t just the usual muscle recovery soreness.
How do you reduce post-workout soreness?
While soreness can be a good thing, it’s still a pain to deal with! It can be hard to sit down the day after you’ve done a leg workout. So, how do you reduce the pain and soreness?
For starters, you should stretch after every workout. This lengthens the muscles and stops them from getting overly tight. You could also think about visiting an osteopathy clinic or a chiropractor to work on your individual muscles. They can help relax the muscles and improve joint alignment, speeding up the recovery process and preventing/treating injuries.
Next, be sure you drink lots of water as it helps your muscles flush out things like lactic acid. Have you ever felt a burning sensation during or after workouts? That’s lactic acid, and water is a great way of getting rid of it.
All in all, muscle soreness is generally a good thing as it shows you’ve worked hard. However, be cautious if the soreness becomes really painful and happens quickly after a workout. Of course, try the tips above to reduce soreness so you can get on with your day after working out.