For most people who workout or are into physical fitness, muscle fatigue can be a love-hate relationship. It can mean that you had a good workout and may potentially see strength gains, or it may mean that you won't be able to move at all for days at a time.
Muscle fatigue and soreness can be a great indicator that you had an intense and good workout, but what if you don't feel any? Is this good or bad? What causes this soreness in the first place?
Is Not Feeling Sore After A Workout A "Bad Thing"?
If you find yourself not feeling any muscle fatigue or soreness after a what you thought to be an intense workout, this is certainly not a bad thing. Soreness should not be a direct measure of how well your workout is. You should instead focus on other factors like how to boost your workout the next time, such as adding more sets or higher intensity.
What Causes Muscle Soreness in the First Place?
Let's first address why some days you are sorer than others.
Facing a lot of soreness is something someone may experience if they haven't worked out in a while or are working out a muscle group they haven't focused on a while. If someone starts a new program or exercise, a lot of soreness may follow after their training.
In essence, soreness is the effect of your muscles trying to adapt to new stimuli that they are presented with. Small, microscopic tears in your muscle fibers occur in your muscles after working out, and the repairing of these fibers is what causes you to gain muscle over time. When you workout, you are ultimately tearing down your muscle fibers and rebuilding them stronger and stronger the more you workout and break them apart, but in turn leads to muscle soreness and fatigue.
These microscopic tears that cause muscle soreness can also be referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle, or also known as DOMS. DOMS usually shows signs 24 to 48 hours after you've worked out, which is why fatigue for some can sometimes be higher on the second day than the first day working out.
However, having soreness or not having soreness is not a good indicator of having a good or bad workout. If you feel extra sore, it may be because your body is not conditioned to the strain is put through. If you don't feel sorry, it may because your muscles are already conditioned to the strain and don't feel as sore as they may have in the past from similar workouts and exercises.
What To Do If You Do Feel Sore After A Workout
Foam rolling is a technique that involves using a foam roller to massage muscles and relieve soreness. By targeting trigger points and applying pressure to aching areas, you can release tension and alleviate muscle discomfort.
Staying hydrated is crucial, especially when experiencing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Exercise causes muscle breakdown and the release of waste products and toxins, contributing to soreness. While the liver and kidneys flush out these substances, maintaining proper hydration can speed up the process.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Instead of staying still when experiencing DOMS, incorporating light movement into your routine can be beneficial. Gentle activities like walking, jogging, or light strength exercises help loosen the muscles and improve blood flow, facilitating the transport of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, which aids in the recovery process. Avoid strenuous workouts and focus on easy movements to avoid adding strain.
Stretching can provide relief from muscle tightness. Practice light stretching, being cautious not to overstretch, as it can lead to injury. Stretch until you feel tension in the muscle without pain, holding each stretch for 30-60 seconds before repeating. Gradually increase your range of motion with each stretch session.
Adequate protein intake is important for muscle repair and recovery. Check your daily diet to ensure you're consuming enough protein. Sources include meat (chicken, turkey, beef), eggs, tofu, tempeh, legumes, and other plant-based options.
In conclusion, feeling sore after a workout doesn't necessarily indicate its effectiveness. Focus on other variables like increased weights, reps, or shorter rest times to assess progress. However, if you do experience soreness, follow these guidelines to recover faster and return to your routine.