Have you ever woken up the day after an intense gym session, only to feel as though your muscles are lashing out at you? It’s not uncommon to feel too sore to move after a workout when you take on a very challenging program. That said, have you ever wondered why workouts can make you feel such a surprising amount of muscular stiffness and pain?
If you find yourself feeling too sore to move after a workout then it might be a good idea to learn exactly why you feel that way. Moreover, once you have that understanding you will be better prepared to decide when it will be appropriate to start exercising again.
After all, you may feel tempted to try to just push your way through the pain and keep exercising. Many people feel that they will avoid losing their rhythm and falling behind on their progress if they work through the pain. That said, if you feel too sore to move after a workout then you’re likely to get better results if you give yourself some resting time. Trying to push through the pain to continue getting results may do more harm than good to your progress and puts you at risk of injury.
That said, it’s important to know the difference between regular muscle soreness after exercising and an actual injury. That dull, aching or stiff pain that happens a few hours after a workout is typically normal. It happens because intense activity causes tons of microscopic tears to the muscle fibers. This is particularly true when you use muscles to a degree or in a way that isn’t a part of your regular daily routine. That type of pain is called Exercised Induced Muscle Damage (EIMD).
That said, EIMD will typically bring on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS is the pain that kicks in the next morning or even 48 hours after your workout. That type of pain will typically affect range of motion and will cause a reduction in strength for a while. When DOMS takes over, it’s usually a good idea to take it as a signal that your body needs to rest those muscles for a day or two.
Even pros will experience that type of pain after an intense workout. This helps to explain why you hear about people having “leg day” or other workouts dedicated to certain specific muscle groups. That way, while one part of the body is resting, you can still do workouts focusing on a different part of the body. After all, just because your legs are still a bit sore from yesterday’s workout, it doesn’t mean you can’t focus on your arms, shoulders and back. Still, it’s always good to give the body a full day off every so often, particularly when your body is feeling truly sore from a previous workout.