When it comes to maintaining a vigorous workout schedule during periods of muscle soreness, your strategy should come from a place of knowledge and experience.
If you are doing your job in the gym, sore muscles can become a gloriously painful, and almost welcomed, part of life.
With their rightful place in the annals of gym lore, sore muscles signal to a man that he earned them through hard work.
In fact, a high percentage of greetings between guys in a gym environment start with public proclamations like,
“Dude, I did leg day giant sets yesterday. I can hardly walk.”
“I’m going to skip deadlifts today. Yesterday’s arm blaster workout turned my biceps to jelly.”
“Man, I haven’t been sleeping. My last back workout tore my lats apart, and my mattress is too hard.”
Telling workout partners that your muscles are sore is a little like posing for a picture after landing a fishing trophy. Football players point to Heaven after a touchdown. Soccer players scream at the top of their lungs after a goal.
Lifters flaunt the fact that they nailed a workout by describing a muscle’s sore condition. This “raises the bar” of achievement in the mind, and in a gym environment.
Why Do Muscles Become Sore?
To some men, this question is a no-brainer. You lift heavier weight than you are used to, and your body becomes sore before it heals. In general, this is correct. It is not however, anywhere near complete.
Muscle soreness is a good indicator that muscles are being prompted to grow, but it’s not the only indicator.
When you lift heavy weights, muscle fibers become filled with blood. This promotes the “sliding” of muscle fibers. When this action happens, the fascia around the muscle belly stretches and releases minerals and other compounds. This causes an entire disruption in how the area functions.
Soreness is literally the feeling of the body rushing to put things back together. Muscle repair varies in degrees of pain and immobility, but it also results in bigger and stronger fibers.
Most men with regular gym schedules assume that soreness is always a sign that they’ve had a successful workout. Unfortunately, soreness can be caused by several other things. Not all of them are positive.
* Using a muscle too frequently will result in the inability of that muscle to store nutrients. Healing periods that are too short will cause muscles to stay in a state of decay. This is transferred to the brain in the form physical soreness.
* Dehydration and poor nutrition, including a lack of minerals and BCAA, prepares a muscle for nothing except failure. Having no nutrient stores can only result in a muscle that is in a constant state of repair. This means a great deal of post-workout pain.
* Perennial weakness in a muscle group will manifest as pain. Sometimes, preventing soreness means attention paid to body areas that are less prepared to endure growth.
* Initial signs of common sicknesses can sometimes show in how the muscles feel. Some muscle soreness doesn’t come from working out. It comes from the body finding the most available biological mechanism to indicate its struggle with a sickness like a cold, or the flu.
* Signs of something more serious like nervous and immune diseases often arise as continual muscle soreness. If you experience weeks of soreness in a particular body area, even without working that area in the gym, it might be an indicator that something else is happening. Always consult with a doctor if prolonged muscle soreness interrupts important aspects of your lifestyle.
Remember, soreness means the normal function of the muscle has been disrupted in some way. It’s a little like having a bad bruise. The bruise is tender and discolored. It’s a sign that healing is taking place.
You do not subject the bruised area to normal use, but you also do not stop activity altogether. Naturally, you will learn to adjust movements until the bruise is gone.
It’s the same way with muscle soreness. The sign of a true athlete is the ability to adapt to, and work around, injury. Muscle soreness is a very temporary and localized injury that must be approached in a strategic way.
Working Around Muscle Soreness
When asked about training muscles properly Mr. Universe, Lee Haney once said, “Stimulate, don’t annihilate!” While this doesn’t necessarily mean to under-work your muscles, it does mean that no one should be in a continual state of soreness.
All lifters young, old, experienced, and novices should allow their bodies to heal.
Change your periodization: There is nothing wrong with switching your weekly workout plan to work around sore muscles. Don’t always subscribe to things like Mondays being the universal chest workout day. If one muscle group needs extra time to heal, switch the days in which those muscles are worked. A few extra days of healing time could be the best thing for producing future extraordinary workouts.
Lighten the load: If soreness is caused from very heavy workouts, switch to a lighter weight mode. This is a proven shock principle that is beneficial for muscle gains, as well as, serving as an effective activity-driven mode for dealing with localized soreness.
Lift at different angles: Sometimes, it seems as though an entire muscle group is sore. For experienced lifters, bodybuilders, and “pumpers” a change in style is necessary to work around pain. Try varying exercises. Many muscle groups have several biological sections. Focus on another section as the others heal. Instead of normal flat benching, try a series of flyes for the chest that address perfectly healthy and strong chest muscles.
Lift with a different cadence: A great deal of muscle soreness arises from ballistic types of lifting. When a muscle group is sore, take a few days to explore a more controlled and concentrated series of motions. Slow your lifting pace and tempo down. Even with sore muscles, slow motions help to prevent further fiber injuries. They also prepare the muscles to adapt quicker once the soreness subsides.
Keep sore areas stretched and warm: A sore muscle has the tendency to heal shorter in length. This is contrary to producing muscle gains. Any sore muscle should be stretched several times throughout the day. An elongated muscle heals more naturally, and emerges much stronger.
Use hot and cold therapies at home: Muscle soreness can be caused by several different types of fiber tearing. Good microscopic tearing promotes growth. Bad tearing only results in continual problems. Contrast baths, alternating cold packs and hot compresses, and thermal attention help muscles shed soreness quicker.
Hydrate: No muscle can recover from the tearing that is endured from lifting without an adequate amount of water. Water fills muscle cells, but also delivers nutrients like minerals, electrolytes, and BCAA to growing tissue. A person recovering from any type of muscle soreness should drink at least 1 oz. of water per pound of body weight each day.
Schedule massages: Vigorous athletic massages help elongate muscles for strenuous activity. Elite lifters understand the importance of muscle palpation when it comes to recruiting total amounts of tissue. Expert massage for sore muscles promotes blood flow, nutrient delivery, and the relief of extreme soreness symptoms.
Increase your gym mindfulness: It is entirely possible to continue daily lifting schedules when a part of the body is extremely sore. The key to working around soreness is using a high degree of mindfulness when engaging in normal activities. As you complete your sets and reps, constantly be aware of how muscle groups are working to produce each lift.
If a muscle group that is sore begins to be overly involved, make the necessary mental adjustments to ensure safety. In short, if your back is incredibly sore, get a great leg workout from the hip sled instead of the standard barbell squat. Be smart amount letting your body heal through each soreness recovery cycle.
A degree of muscle soreness should be expected if you really push yourself in a gym environment. Lifting heavy is the surest way toward growth and increased physical aesthetic improvement. When soreness becomes an issue, never be afraid to put a hardcore training schedule on hold. At least modify it to allow proper body healing.
Having sore muscles the day after a hard workout is a wonderful feeling, but continual soreness can become a serious health and wellness issue.
Take the time to understand how your body heals, and never hesitate to adjust habits to ensure a safe and complete recovery.