by CASSIE SIGNORE
Last month, I talked about what it means if you are not sore after your workout. Post-workout muscle soreness can occur when a muscle in your body is over stretched. Having your muscles stretched a little more than they’re used to can lead to small tears in them, called micro tears. A micro tear is what can cause those achy and sore feelings one to three days after your workout. Again, it is ok to not be sore after your workouts. Soreness does not determine if you got in a good training session. If you pull a muscle in your leg during your training what do you do? You don’t just walk it off and jump back into your workout, you rest and let it heal. This same scenario applies with post muscle soreness.
While micro tears might not be on as large of a scale as a pulled muscle they are still small breaks in the muscle and need time to heal. It doesn’t mean you stop training for weeks on end, it just means you wait a day or so before you go back to that particular exercise. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this at some point, when you’re injured you’re not able to get through your workout at the same level as when you are injury free.
For example, if you train over your injury; you’re still trying to deadlift while you’ve pulled a muscle in your back or hamstring, your injury may never heal. Again, as much as we love and dedicate ourselves to our training sessions and workouts I don’t recommend anyone training when you are feeling moderately sore or when you “can’t walk after leg day.”
In my opinion, a well-balanced training program should include a combination of resistance and cardio training as well as some rehabilitation training (stretching). For example, I usually recommend spacing out your workouts for every second day. I usually take Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to do resistance training including free weights and some fixed machines and Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays I do mainly cardio based training, including running, walking, and yoga or even cycling.
Basically, breaking up your weight training days can give you more time to recover from muscle soreness, if any, and help with the previous day’s post-workout stiffness.
It’s also important to remember “Go big or Go home” doesn’t always apply. Remember to gradually increase the amount of weight you lift or the number of reps you do so that you are continually challenging your body. The key is progression not perfection.
Of course, stretching after your workout is always a great idea too. Stretching helps reduce soreness and helps keep your blood flowing.
Another way to reduce post workout muscle soreness is to foam roll, which is essentially a form of self-massage. Foam rolling can help reduce the soreness you may feel the next day. Epsom salt baths are something I’ve only recently tried but they can also help with recovery.
A lot of my runner friends, including my brother Josh, take Epsom salt baths because Epsom salt contains magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that helps your muscles relax and recover. Adding one to two cups to your next after workout bath may help your body recover after your hard training days.
Overall, being fit and healthy is a marathon not a walk in the park. It’ll take hard work and dedication to achieve your fitness goals and that doesn’t mean you have to push yourself over the edge each workout. Remember to listen to your body and if you are injured give yourself some time to recover. Missing out on your training session because you are sore is ok. Listen to your body and it will thank you with the results you’ve been working for.
Cassie Signore is a NASM certified personal trainer, a yoga instructor, nutritional coach, and works at LA Fitness.