It is 2020, can you believe it? You may be among the many who start the new year off with the intention of going hard in the gym and setting a New Year’s resolution of cutting body fat and building muscle! Most of us tend to be fired up and inspired this time of year and really pick up the intensity with our workouts.
So, if you started off this new decade by pushing yourself in the gym, your muscles may be feeling pretty sore right now, am I right? And, you’re likely wondering if you should keep working out while your muscles are sore. It’s a really great question! Well then… should you?
First off – don’t worry! The sore muscles you’re experiencing are totally normal! It is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS occurs as a result of exercise and the microscopic damage to muscle tissue that occurs while exercising – often referred to as microtears. It is an area of great interest among athletes, exercise enthusiasts, and exercise scientists.
So, let’s get to the answer of the question, should you keep exercising if you’re experiencing DOMS? Are you ready for this? Drumroll please… Yes, but also maybe no. If the pain is completely unbearable, then don’t. Make sure you fully rest and recover. And also make sure it’s not a serious injury. We don’t want to risk serious injury! Consult a professional if you’re unsure.
However, if the muscle soreness is tolerable, then consider continuing to exercise. But, be sure to do it strategically. A well put together training program should be designed to allow for, and encourage, muscle recovery – which typically takes somewhere around 48-72 hours. So, if you trained your chest on Monday and your chest is really sore on Wednesday, don’t train it again. Instead, train another body part, or consider some light aerobic exercise. In fact, one study showed that massage and active recovery exercises yielded similar results when helping offset DOMS. Other tips for offsetting DOMS include walking, stretching, implementing a cool down to your workout, doing yoga, foam rolling, and doing some light swimming to name a few. Additionally, make sure you are hydrated. This one sounds so incredibly simple, but is often overlooked. Being hydrated will do more than bolster your performance! One study showed a relationship between dehydration and increased muscle soreness. So, remember, there are ways to work around this nuisance pain we call DOMs! One last thing. You may be wondering if supplementation can help reduce soreness. Some evidence suggested that CoQ10, taurine, and vitamin C may help. And a 2010 study showed that supplementing with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) reduced DOMs in untrained individuals.
The big takeaway here, is if you aren’t injured, and you are experiencing DOMs, don’t let it deter you – it is totally normal and you should keep up your enthusiasm for exercise and stay on track! This new year, and new decade, is the perfect time for you to incorporate exercise into your life (or reinvigorate it) if you haven’t already!