I was inspired to look up this information for a few different reasons. It started with this image I posted on my blog a while back:
Obviously, you can see that it reads "If your body hurts then you're doing something right." I pinned it to my fitness board in Pinterest, and it was repinned 370 times, which is a lot. So many people seemed to like it, and I did not even think about the fact that maybe it was untrue until someone left a comment saying so. Rather, she said that the saying was not true and that not all pain = gain. So it made me curious, and this post is the result.
First off, I'll start with the reasons how and why our muscles become sore. While we are completing a difficult workout, we are essentially overloading our muscles and causing small tears in the muscle fibers. This can then lead to inflammation. It is this inflammation that causes the discomfort and it will only disappear once the muscle has completely healed itself. The healing process causes the muscle to repair the tears with stronger muscle fiber.
The pain will usually occur one to two days after your work out, not right away. There are a multitude of symptoms that can be experienced, from aches, to stiffness or tenderness. The pain will usually start to disappear after three days, but everybody is different. Beginners will definitely experience more muscle soreness compared to someone who has been working out for years. If you change up your normal work out routine, which is recommended that you do so every 4-6 weeks to avoid plateaus, or if you are regularly upping your weight on weight machines, then there is a very good chance that you will experience soreness to some degree.
If you are experiencing soreness, the best course of action is to let your body rest. Make sure that you are properly warming up before a work out and cooling down and stretching afterwards. It'll only add about 10 minutes to your work out and it will help to prevent soreness by increasing blood flow to the affected areas. If you are sore after every work out, chances are, you're doing something wrong or working out past your limits. This can cause injuries, so you should reevaluate your work out routine.
You should not use muscle soreness to gauge whether or not you have gotten a good work out. Chances are, this will lead your to overdo it in the gym more often and again, lead to injuries. I won't lie, I've hurt my wrist and pulled a leg muscle so far, and I've only been working out for 6 weeks. I made necessary changes, mostly to the amount of weight I'm lifting for my arm work outs, and I haven't hurt myself since.
This information forces me to come to the conclusion that muscle soreness is not a bad thing. I think that the above image has it close to right. Soreness is just evidence that our muscles are benefiting from the work that we do in the gym. The muscles are being rebuilt and replaced by strong muscle tissue and moving us forward in our work out efforts. As long as you are careful and aware of how much your body can handle, and the soreness is not lasting too long, then soreness might just be my new best friend.
So, with this information in mind, have a safe, but solid work out today!
P.s. Take the poll before time runs out!!
Stretch!!!! Your muscles will thank you.