Muscle soreness or, delayed onset muscle soreness, is natural when you challenge the muscles with new exercises or more intensity. When you put a new stress on the body, it adapts so it can handle that new load. Part of the adaptation process includes muscle soreness, microscopic tears in the connective tissue that support and surround the muscle.
Sore muscles are in the process of healing and growing stronger, so you should avoid stressing them even more by doing heavy, intense exercise. However, a light workout may offer some temporary relief as you warm the muscles and create more blood flow.
Coping with muscle soreness:
- Light exercise: Some studies suggest that yoga, light weight-training (using no weight or very light weights) or light cardio (e.g., walking/swimming) may help reduce symptoms.
- Massage: Though studies are conflicting, there are some studies showing that massage might alleviate some muscle soreness.
- Time is the one thing that works every time. Most soreness will ease after about 2-3 days, allowing you to get back to your workouts.
Avoiding muscle soreness:
- Start slowly to allow your muscles to gradually adapt to the stress of new activities or intensities. This is especially true if you’ve taken a long break from exercise. Going back to the workouts you used to do may be too much for your body.
- Gradually build intensity: To get in shape, burn calories, and lose weight, you have to challenge your body with more stress than it’s used to, one of the things that cause soreness.If you’re a beginner, any activity is more stress than your body is used to, so you may need to stay with the same workouts for 1-2 weeks before adding intensity.