This is one of the most common and one of my favourite self-prescriptions I hear:
“I’m too sore to workout, I need a rest day”
If you workout consistently, soreness is part of your life. And if you workout inconsistently, soreness is inevitable every time you “restart” your training. Even if you sit at a desk all day soreness is likely part of your life too.
So what do you do about it?
Rest day? Ice bath? Salts?
Most people rest. “I’m sore so I need to let my body recover and rest. I belive this mindset stems from a common doctor response: “if it hurts don’t do it”.
But what if that’s not the best option?
When it comes to exercise, typically it’s the opposite that’s true. If your muscles are sore from a workout, most of the time using and challenging those muscles again will help reduce the soreness.
When it comes to lifestyle soreness, like sitting at a desk all day, the same prescription can be true. Exercising, strengthening and stretching the sore areas/muscles will do a lot to reduce the soreness.
However, if the soreness is extreme due to muscle fibre damage, which is often the case in a “first workout back”, then rest and repair is needed otherwise you can create further damage.
When you have soreness and tightness that has built up over time, recovery and/or reversing the soreness also takes time. And in my experience more time than most people want to invest. I’m talking both time in the sense of days, weeks and even months to recover and also time in the sense of amount spent per day working on active recovery.
No matter the reason, you’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating the soreness so you’re going to need to put time and effort into reversing the soreness too. Also, it can often get worse before it gets better. Recovery is usually a marathon, not a sprint. Plan for the long run and experience the benefits.
Next I’ll talk about maintenance!