How Sore Is Too Sore: Is Your Killer Exercise Killing You

How Sore Is Too Sore: Is Your Killer Exercise Killing You?

Kar Kei Wong by Kar Kei Wong on Mar 7, 2016
Why you should care

Can’t tell if you’re tired, injured, or just plain lazy? Look out for these messages your body is sending you!

We’ve all been there. You finish a killer workout and you’re aching everywhere and yet, you feel good. Because “no pain, no gain” right?

Well, maybe not.

There’s a fine line between pushing through laziness and pushing yourself beyond what your body can take. It’s all well to push your limits when it comes to fitness – after all, the goal is to be fitter, faster, and stronger. So how can you tell if you’re taking your workouts too far and thus risking injury?

It’s time to make better choices and reach your fitness goals the right way with fewer setbacks!

Why do I feel sore?

During an intense workout, your muscle fibres experience microscopic tears, causing you pain. It is absolutely normal to feel sore after a particularly hard session or after you’ve done a workout you haven’t attempted before or in a long while, as those muscle groups haven’t been used in a long time.

How do I know if I’m sore?

The common symptoms of soreness range from motion and joint stiffness to tenderness and swelling. You may also feel like your muscles are weaker.

How do I tell the difference between soreness and injury?

Injured During A Workout

Soreness is something that usually happens gradually – the most common of which is known as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). It will only rear its ugly head about 12 to 48 hours after your workout, intensifying as hours pass.

You may also feel a dull ache during your workout due to the accumulation of lactic acid, another form of soreness that happens during or shortly after your workouts. However, if you get sharp or acute pain while exercising, it’s most likely an injury. So stop exercising and get some rest; that bikini bod can wait!

When should I rest?

When the pain starts to limit your range of motion and is affecting your strength, take a day or two off the gym. Your muscles need the recovery time to rebuild muscle fibers. Don’t freak out quite yet, though! This is part and parcel of the road to building more muscle, strength, and endurance!

When should I seek medical assistance?

If the pain hasn’t subsided after 72 hours and you’re reaching the 96th hour mark, it may be time to visit a doctor!  A dark urine colour and/or an abnormal heart rate could also be indicators that you’re sporting a more serious injury.

But I feel motivated and I don’t want to ditch my workout plans. Why can’t I continue my exercises?

Being sore means that the same workout will be a lot harder to get through. Even worse, the pain will not be worthwhile as the workout will be less effective and will pose risks of severe injuries (which might put you out for longer). The excessive stress on your body can also lower your immune system, making you fall sick. While motivation and discipline are great, sometimes your body may just be too tired.

What form of exercise can I still do if I do not want to stop working out?

Yoga Pose

If you’re not severely injured and cannot bear the thought of falling behind in your exercise plans, try low impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or slow cycling. But if you’re a high-intensity kinda gal/guy, work on a different body part while the sore area recovers. For example, if your legs are sore, make it an abs or arms day.
Another form of exercise that you can do is yoga. This is good for reducing muscle tension and could actually help alleviate some of the pain. But seriously, why not just snuggle up in front of the TV and treat yourself to a cheat day that may or may not include ice cream?

How can I speed up my recovery?

Here are some remedies you can try:

  • Epsom salt bath – relaxes your muscles and loosens your joints
  • Ice bath –  reduces swelling
  • Sports massage therapy – realigns muscle fibres and connective tissues, and loosens muscles
  • Stretching – loosens muscles
  • Sleep, rest, and repeat!

What can I do to reduce soreness in the future?

Eat well. Make sure you get lots of protein as a post-workout snack for muscle repair. A good source would be omega-3 eggs. Not only is it a good source of protein, the omega-3 also helps reduce inflammation.

Stretch pre- and post workout. When you engage your muscles in a workout, they contract. Stretching loosens your muscles and reduces the likelihood of soreness.

Try alternating workout types for better endurance. For example, Mondays and Wednesdays for legs and Tuesdays and Thursdays for abs and arms. This allows your muscles to rest intermittently, reducing soreness and working out the entire body throughout the week. It’s a win-win!

While soreness can make you feel like you’re making progress, it’s not an indicator of how good a workout you’ve had. It’s different for everyone. Similarly, do not be discouraged if you  often feel sore. Even the toughest athletes feel it every now and then. So hey, up for that ice cream?

Why you should care

Can’t tell if you’re tired, injured, or just plain lazy? Look out for these messages your body is sending you!

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