What Soreness Levels Tell You About Your Workout
You know you have had a good leg day at the gym when three days later you still need the aid of the counter to sit down on the toilet.
If you walk like your hobbled and need a walker with golf balls, you should have an accomplished smile on your face.
But seriously though… is being that sore good for you? How sore is too sore?
We each have different tolerance levels. For example, my mother HATES being sore. She has battled fibromyalgia without ever complaining, but going to the gym and adding that soreness level is too much.
On the other end of the spectrum, my father and brother lift weights till they can’t lift their arms the next day.
Which leaves me, somewhere in the middle. I like waking up with a little muscle tenderness in the areas I worked out the previous day. If I am not sore, I start to ponder if I did enough. Am I challenging myself enough?
What level of soreness (if any) should we strive for?
There is an actual scientific name for the famed 3-day leg soreness called Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS for short.
Essentially, when we workout, we are creating micro-tears in our muscles. These tears are a GOOD thing as they are what causes our muscles to grow in the rebuilding process.
Our sourness comes from inflammation. The reason why we tend to be increasingly sore on day three is because during the first 24 hours after, blood begins to flow to the damaged tears along with proteins to rebuild.
In the next 24 hours, excess blood and fluid build up causing soreness and pain when we use the muscles that are repairing. That access fluid is what makes your legs feel like the chunks of led that you are hauling around.
Tips to deal with DOMS
Don’t just lounge on the couch all day. Having a light active rest day with walks or a swim. This light activity aids in recovery.
Avoid doing another session on the already suffering muscles. Working extremely sore muscle groups could lead to injury, so give yourself time to heal.
HYDRATION! Drinking enough fluids before, during and after your workout is key. You will still be sore, but hydration helps us recover faster so you can of course… hit the gym again!
How sore is too sore?
If you are sore for a really long time, say over 72 hours, it’s time to consider other causes such as muscle strain, tendinitis or an injury.
If you are experiencing pain during your gym session or RIGHT after, that is not a good kind of soreness. There may be a problem with your form.
Also, if your joints are swollen and causing a loss of motion, that is not the soreness we are looking for.
Embrace the Sore Muscles
Overall, being the right level of sore at the right time is a sign that you are working towards the goal of muscle growth. Is it worth it?
YES! Muscle growth increases metabolism, and decreases a wide range of health issues.
Waking up nice and sore should set your day off painfully right. Keep chasing those gains!