You’ve committed to getting a little healthier and you’ve started an exercise program. Yesterday you smashed your workout in the gym, but you could barely get out of bed this morning and now you’re walking around like John Wayne because you’re so sore. You may wonder if you should continue with your training today or just rest, but you’ve committed to workout goals and you really want to achieve them.
Don’t let your muscle soreness get you down! Here are workouts you can do when you’re too achy to hit the gym again.
Why are you sore?
When you work out, the added effort of moving around and lifting weights puts stress on your muscles; the soreness you’re feeling today is called Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness (or DOMS for short) and it’s completely normal.
DOMs are usually worst when exercising for the first time after a long break or a change in activity. It lasts around 24 to 48 hours after exercise (although can last longer), but the good news is the more you work out, the better your body will be equipped to handle it. Some people even like it as it lets them know they’ve had a good workout and their body is responding to training!
Want to treat your soreness? Try using a heating pad or have a warm bath to help ease the discomfort. Ice (if you’re brave enough) is actually better as it will reduce the swelling in your muscles – that’s why athletes have ice baths after a big event. If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge, a bag of ice cubes held over the area will work as well.
What are the benefits of working out when sore?
Active recovery (working out when you’re sore) can help by stretching out sore muscles, but only if you’re gentle. If you genuinely feel that you are far too sore to work out, rest and use ice or heat to speed up recovery. Also, as tempting as it can be to sit on the couch, you’ll seize up more from lack of movement so, although it’s going to be uncomfortable at first, doing some light movement will actually help you feel better and recover much quicker.
If you do feel up to a light workout, here’s what you can try:
Going for a gentle walk or slow cycle helps to improve circulation and increase blood flow to your sore muscles. Blood carries the nutrients and oxygen that your muscles need to repair and the faster these nutrients get to the muscles, the faster they can get to work (and you’ll feel better much quicker).
If you feel able to do a little more than just walk or cycle you can do some light exercises (and we really do mean light!). Lay off the weights altogether and choose some simple bodyweight exercises like lunges, the plank, and push-ups. These are all great for increasing blood flow and helping you stretch your fatigued body. If you do want to use weights, make sure you go super light, and use weights at 25% – 50% of the weight you would usually opt for.
Rolling out a mat and flowing through some yoga can really help to alleviate the discomfort of your sore muscles.
Yoga combines deep breathing with slow stretching which will give your muscles the added boost of blood and oxygen; you’ll get to enjoy the blissful feeling of relief from the aches and pains as you gently stretch into each pose.