Do you generally enjoy stairmaster workouts? How about a bier workout? Or maybe you’re wondering between yoga vs. Pilates or circuit training vs. HIIT? Whatever workout you choose, be sure to be aware of your body’s limitations. If you’re someone who stays active, you’re no stranger to sore muscles. Sometimes, even a light workout can leave you with burning biceps, tender glutes or abdominal pain the next day.
When you experience muscle pain, you may think to yourself, should I exercise during the pain?
While working out is part of your regular routine, you may be hesitant to skip the gym because of sore muscles. The good news is, you may not need to. Although there are some risks associated with working out when you have muscle pain, doing so is not completely out of the question. In fact, it might be good for you too—And Your muscles will know what to do here.
Why working out when you’re in pain can be a good thing
Every person’s body is different, so knowing your personal limits is key to exercising safely. While a big part of staying fit is pushing yourself a little at a time, pushing yourself too far can lead to injury.
That said, there may be benefits to pushing through your workout even if your muscles are sore. In fact, a certain amount of muscle soreness can be a sign that your workout is working.
Why did this happen?
When you experience muscle soreness after exercise, called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), it’s caused by small tears in your muscles and/or the breakdown of the connective tissue that surrounds them.
This kind of loss is normal after exercise, especially if you’re focusing on a new muscle group or exercise style. When this happens, damaged muscle tissue, blood vessels and immune cells activate a type of skeletal muscle cell known as a satellite cell.1
These are specialized cells that form when your muscles experience trauma, and in response, they perform two important functions:
- Repair damaged muscles – Satellite cells fuse with damaged muscle tissue, helping to repair those microscopic tears during your workout.
- Grow new muscles – Satellite cells remain somewhat dormant until your muscles experience trauma. Then, they re-enter your cellular system and start building new muscles.
In other words, the microscopic damage you do to your muscles during your workout actually stimulates muscle growth, which we colloquially refer to as “gains” that awaken the cells that build and repair muscle.
How to work when you’re in pain
So, should you work out when sore? You can, but there are a few things you should know before hitting the gym with sore muscles.2
First, it’s important to determine whether your pain is a typical case of DOMS or a more serious injury. While working out with sore muscles is usually fine, working out with an injury can make matters worse. Symptoms of injury include:
- Pain that lasts more than 48-72 hours
- Numbness, swelling or tingling
- lose function
Once you’ve verified that you’re not injured, exercising when your muscles are sore may be better for you than skipping your routine. If you exercise during pain, you can try these exercises:
- Active recovery workouts – These are low-intensity exercises that stimulate blood flow, which helps your muscles recover. Walking, swimming, and cycling are excellent examples of active recovery workouts you can try when you have sore muscles.
- Alternative workout focus – Waking up with sore feet after a long day is no reason to skip the gym. Instead, focus on a different muscle group, like your arms or chest, or switch to an exercise that doesn’t ask your legs as much.
- Full range of exercises – Activities that force you to put your body through its full range of motion can be beneficial for your sore muscles. Exercises such as cycling, walking and yoga increase your blood flow, which promotes muscle elasticity and brings nutrients to your muscles to help relieve pain.
- Weight training – Weight training can help you learn more about your body’s limitations. That way, you know you can take on a more intense workout or lighten the load. Whatever your choice, the most important thing is to work within your comfort zone.
What are the risks of working when in pain?
If you’re wondering “does it hurt when I exercise,” you should be aware of the associated risks. As mentioned above, sore muscles don’t have to get in the way of your fitness. But overdoing it can be harmful. The following symptoms are some of the signs you may want to take it easy:
- Increased muscle or joint pain
- Above-average resting heart rate
- lack of appetite
If you experience these symptoms, it may be time to see your healthcare provider.
Work out at Choose Fitness
Should you work out when sore? Yes, if you do it wisely. But if you’re not quite sure how to safely work out sore muscles, friendly people Choose Fitness Can help you create a routine that soothes your muscles and keeps you fit. This way, you won’t cause further muscle damage.
At Choose Fitness, we are passionate about helping people achieve their physical fitness goals. You might be thinking, “What’s in it? gym near me“With many convenient locations in various states, Fitness class For all levels, and even one Playlist Designed to boost your motivation, you’ll wonder why you didn’t “choose” us earlier.
Get started today.
Ani is Vice President of Fitness at Chuz Fitness and oversees the Group Fitness and Team Training departments. He had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Annie lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and son and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.
- border Satellite cells in human skeletal muscle plasticity. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2015.00283/full
- Healthline. What you should know about working out when you’re in pain. https://www.healthline.com/health/working-out-when-sore#benefits