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Exercising with muscle soreness: smart or better not to do?

10 May 2023|Training

Can you keep training while experiencing muscle soreness? And are there ways to prevent muscle soreness or to recover from it quickly? In this article, we'll answer all your questions!

How does muscle soreness occur?

Feeling sore after training? That usually means ๐Ÿ˜‰ you've been doing great! During a vigorous workout, you push yourself and your muscles to the limit. This creates small tears in your muscle fibers. These small tears are the muscle soreness you feel.

By taking a break afterwards, your muscles have the opportunity to recover with new muscle tissue. This way, your muscles become a little stronger each time. And in the case of strength training (combined with proper nutrition), they also become bigger!

Usually, you feel the muscle soreness 24 to 48 hours after the workout. Depending on the intensity of your training, it can last a few days to even a week.

Can you keep training with muscle soreness?

Muscle building and becoming stronger are about the balance between effort and recovery. By taking enough rest after your workout and watching your nutrition, you get the most out of your workouts. So do you have to fully recover from your muscle soreness before you can start again? Well, it depends on the situation.

If you can still perform the exercise with proper form, you can lightly train the muscle group a little more. If that's not possible, it's better to wait until your muscle soreness is gone.

Of course, that doesn't mean you can't go to the gym at all! You can also train other muscle groups that are not affected by the soreness! On the days when you experience muscle soreness in your upper body, for example, you can plan a leg day.

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Exercising with muscle soreness

So far, we've mainly discussed training in the gym. But of course, you can also have muscle soreness after a nice game of soccer, tennis or boxing. The same advice applies to other sports: if your muscle soreness is too severe to perform the sport properly, wait until it's (mostly) gone. Take it easy until then.

Choose active recovery

If you still want to stay active, choose active recovery. These are exercises that you perform at a low intensity. Active recovery promotes blood flow to the muscles, allowing them to recover better and faster. By keeping moving lightly, you can accelerate the recovery process!

Examples of active recovery include: walking, cycling, or swimming at a slow pace, doing yoga, or performing active stretching exercises.

Is muscle soreness always good?

Muscle soreness is usually a sign of growth or progress. 'Healthy' muscle soreness lasts a few days and then goes away. If your muscle soreness is really painful and lasts a week before it goes away, you've probably gone too far.

This often happens if you haven't exercised for a long time and go all out right away. It's better to build up slowly, because your body really needs to get used to it again. When you exceed your limits too much, the recovery can even take so long that you break down more than you have built up. This is also called supercompensation.

No muscle soreness, no progress?

A little muscle soreness is normal! It means you're getting stronger. If you don't feel anything after a workout, no worries! ๐Ÿ˜‰

This doesn't mean you're not making progress at all. It's often thought that muscle soreness equals progress, but even without muscle soreness, you can still make progress.

After a light workout, your muscles can still become stronger, even if you don't feel much. Or, you're already super fit! Muscle soreness then occurs less and less frequently.

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