Sunday, Aug 27, 2023 7 min read

Should You Workout When Your Muscles Are Sore?

Bridget Reed

Should You Workout When Your Muscles Are Sore?  product
Should You Workout When Your Muscles Are Sore?

Experiencing muscle soreness after an intense workout is almost a rite of passage for fitness enthusiasts. It's a sign that you've pushed your limits and challenged your body in new ways. However, muscle soreness can be both rewarding and concerning. 


How do you differentiate between the aftermath of a successful workout and the warning signs that you might have overdone it? Enter the realm of DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, a phenomenon familiar to many who regularly engage in physical activity. 


This article will closely examine DOMS and muscle soreness so that you know what to do when it occurs and what steps to take to ensure your overall well-being. 


What Causes DOMS and Muscle Soreness?

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, commonly abbreviated as DOMS, is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after a strenuous workout. It differs from the immediate soreness you might feel during or right after a workout. DOMS typically begins to manifest a day after your exercise session and can last anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.


What Causes DOMS? 

When we engage in particularly intense workouts or introduce new exercise routines, our muscle tissue experiences microscopic tears. This might sound alarming, but these microtears are a natural part of muscle growth and strengthening. As the body repairs these tears, it causes inflammation and soreness in the affected muscle groups. 


Activities that involve lengthening muscles under tension, like squats or strength training, are particularly known to result in DOMS. While it's a sign that you're challenging your muscles and promoting growth, it's essential to approach subsequent workouts with caution and awareness.


What Are the Risks of Working Out With Sore Muscles?

While a bit of muscle soreness can be a badge of honor after an especially grueling session, pushing through significant pain can be detrimental. Overtraining, a condition where you give your body more stress than it can recover from, can lead to chronic fatigue, decreased athletic performance, and even mood disturbances.


A crucial risk of ignoring significant muscle soreness is the heightened potential for injury. When muscles are sore, they can't perform at their peak, leading to compromised form during exercises. 


This can further escalate muscle damage and delay recovery. Consistently training sore muscles without allowing them adequate recovery can impede muscle growth, as the muscle tissue doesn't get enough time to repair and rebuild effectively.


How Do You Know the Difference Between Pain and Discomfort?

It's essential to differentiate between the discomfort associated with a good workout and the pain that signals potential harm. Good pain, or the slight discomfort and burn you might feel during a workout, is often linked to lactic acid buildup and is a natural part of muscle exertion. This discomfort is fleeting and usually subsides soon after you stop the exercise.


On the other hand, bad pain feels sharp or debilitating. It doesn't just fade away and can even intensify with continued movement. 


This type of pain might indicate muscle strains, ligament sprains, or overuse injuries. If you feel this kind of pain, it's crucial to immediately stop exercising to avoid further complications.


One of Copper Fit's primary messages revolves around being active but in a smart, informed manner. Listening to your body and understanding when to push through and when to rest is paramount. Adopting this approach ensures longevity in your fitness routine and minimizes the risk of setbacks due to injuries.


What Is Active Recovery?

Active recovery is a term that often floats around in the fitness community, particularly amongst those keen on optimizing their routines for maximum efficiency and health. But what does active recovery mean, and why is it essential, especially when dealing with sore muscles?


Active recovery refers to engaging in low-intensity exercises that promote blood flow and help muscles recover without putting them under significant strain. Think of it as a middle ground between an all-out workout and complete rest. 


The idea behind active recovery is simple: promote circulation, improve range of motion, and help alleviate muscle soreness without exacerbating potential microtears or causing additional muscle strain.


Why Is Increasing Blood Flow so Crucial? 

Blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen to sore muscles, which can expedite the healing process and reduce the duration of muscle soreness. Moreover, an increased blood flow helps in flushing out lactic acid, which often builds up after intense exercise and contributes to muscle pain.


What Are Recommended Active Recovery Methods?

Some active recovery methods you can consider incorporating into your workout routine include:


  • Light Exercise: This might seem counterintuitive, but engaging in low-intensity activities like walking, cycling, or even a gentle yoga session can be hugely beneficial. These activities boost circulation without putting undue stress on your sore muscles.

  • Foam Rolling: Foam rolling, or self-myofascial release, is a method where you use a foam roller to massage and roll out tight muscle groups. The pressure and motion help in breaking down knots and increasing blood flow to the area, providing relief from soreness.

  • Stretching: Regular stretching improves flexibility and range of motion. When muscles are sore, gentle stretching can help elongate the muscle fibers, providing relief and reducing the risk of injuries.

  • Water Activities: Swimming or even just walking in a pool can be incredibly therapeutic. Water provides resistance, which is excellent for muscle activation, but it's also gentle, ensuring that you don't strain your muscles further.

  • Equipment: Using equipment such as the Copper Fit’s Ice Collection products can help with muscle soreness because they are menthol-infused. For example, if you like to lift weights, the Ice Compression Gloves may provide comfort to your hands, supporting flexibility during your workout. 

While active recovery is an excellent tool in your fitness arsenal, it's also crucial to remember that every individual is different. What works for one person might not be as effective for another. It's always beneficial to listen to your body and, if needed, consult a sports medicine professional or physical therapist to get advice tailored to your specific needs and conditions.


Copper Fit champions a balanced approach to fitness. Incorporating active recovery, especially when dealing with DOMS, aligns with our brand's philosophy of promoting strong, informed, and solutions-oriented practices for a long-lasting, active lifestyle.


What Are Other Recovery Methods and Their Benefits?

The journey of muscle recovery goes beyond just rest and routine adjustments. There's a plethora of recovery tools and methods that can offer solace from muscle soreness and expedite the healing process. 


Some of these tools include:


  • Massage Gun: A recent favorite in the fitness community, massage guns deliver deep tissue massage, supporting blood flow and offering relaxation to sore muscles. The percussive therapy it offers can penetrate deeper layers of muscle, effectively soothing tightness and discomfort.

  • Supplements and Diet: Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and omega-3 fatty acids can naturally soothe muscle soreness. Supplements, when taken under medical guidance, can offer benefits that support muscle recovery.

  • Sports Medicine: A dedicated field that looks into the well-being of athletes and fitness enthusiasts, sports medicine plays a pivotal role in managing and understanding muscle soreness. Whether it's tailoring recovery techniques or recommending therapeutic measures, professionals in this field are indispensable when navigating muscle pain and injury.

How Can You Adjust Your Workout Routine When Your Muscles Are Sore?

An effective workout isn't just about intensity and repetition but smart planning. First, make sure you are incorporating warm-ups and cool-downs into your workout routines. These are your bookends to a safe workout. They prep your body, reduce injury risk, and facilitate muscle recovery post-exercise.


It's also essential to avoid overworking specific muscle groups. By alternating between upper-body and lower-body workouts, you ensure that each group gets adequate recovery time. Feeling minimal discomfort, restored range of motion, and renewed energy are indicators that you're ready to take on your next workout.


When in doubt, seek out a professional consultation. A fitness regimen should be as unique as you. Consulting with a medical professional ensures your routine caters to your needs, avoiding potential pitfalls.


What Lifestyle Changes Can You Make When Your Muscles Are Sore?

​​Remember, your fitness routine doesn't operate in isolation. It's a part of a bigger wellness picture. 


Here are some simple changes you can make to your lifestyle when you feel lots of muscle soreness:


  • Balancing Goals: Whether aiming for weight loss or muscle gain, it's vital to strike a balance. Over-prioritizing one can hinder the other, so maintaining equilibrium is key.

  • Adequate Rest: Sleep and rest are as crucial as the workout itself. They are indispensable in muscle repair, energy restoration, and overall health.

  • Holistic Wellness: Staying hydrated, consuming a balanced diet, and addressing mental well-being are pillars of overall health. A truly effective fitness regimen recognizes and incorporates these elements for holistic well-being.

Wrapping Up 

In the world of fitness, pushing limits and setting new records often become the focal point. However, the recovery journey is equally, if not more, critical. 


Listening to our bodies, discerning between good pain and potentially harmful soreness, and incorporating various recovery strategies, from massage guns to sports medicine, isn't just about optimizing our workouts. It's about ensuring long-term health and functionality. 


Warm-ups, cool-downs, and strategic workout routines emphasize the philosophy of “training smart.” The wellness lens, which encompasses balanced nutrition, adequate rest, and overall well-being, completes this picture. 


At Copper Fit, we believe in an informed, strong, and solutions-oriented approach to physical wellness. Recognizing the interplay between muscle work, recovery, and holistic health is not just an exercise in knowledge but a commitment to a more empowered, aware, and sustainable fitness journey. 


So, the next time you're facing muscle soreness, remember it's your body's way of communicating. How you respond determines not just your next workout's quality but the trajectory of your long-term fitness.





Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic


Is Lactic Acid Buildup Really What Causes Muscle Soreness After a Workout? | Houston Methodist Leading Medicine


Anti Inflammatory Diet | Johns Hopkins Medicine


Omega-3 Fatty Acids & the Important Role They Play | Cleveland Clinic


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