4 Consequences of Exercising While Sore

19 November, 2020
The only exercises that we should do while we're sore are low-intensity exercises. Low-intensity exercises will promote blood flow to sore areas.

Soreness is one of the most common muscular affectations when it comes to athletes. It mainly affects people who are just starting to practice a certain sport or a new exercise. It occurs due to the fact that their body hasn’t yet developed the structures to sustain the required effort. It’s important to avoid exercising while sore.

Read along to find out what soreness is and why you shouldn’t exercise until you recover.

What is soreness?

Soreness is caused by muscular micro-tears. Micro-tears are nothing more than various muscle fiber tears.

Micro-tears cause late-onset pain. This means that the pain usually occurs the next day after exercising. Exercise-induced soreness is also known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

Ways to prevent soreness:

  • Prepare your muscles. This means exercising gradually in order to allow your muscles to adapt.
  • Warm-up. Warming up is important since it allows the muscles to withstand higher workloads.
  • Hydrate. It’s important to hydrate before, during, and after exercising. Muscles need water in order for them to function properly.

In addition, according to the Journal of Sports Sciences, protein supplements can help overcome soreness quickly.

woman with sore back

Negative effects of soreness

Since soreness is a result of muscle injury it’s important to fully recover before resuming your routine. The following are the main consequences of exercising while sore.

Late recovery

The fastest way to recovery is to rest. Therefore, it’s counterproductive to exercise while sore.

Feeling sore: risk of serious injury

Although DOMS is nothing more than a mild injury, it’s important to keep in mind that the soreness is caused by micro-tears. Exercising while suffering from micro-tears can cause actual muscle tears.

Imagine having a scarf between your two hands. If you pull on both ends, nothing will happen. However, if the same scarf has several broken threads, it’ll be a lot easier to rip it in half. The same concept can occur with your muscles.

Hazardous to other structures

The body needs to be in good condition in order for it to function properly. Since it’s composed of many parts, the body requires all of it’s structures to fulfill their specific functions.

Therefore, if your muscles are sore, you may change the way you exercise in order to adapt. This adaptation will compromise technique and add stress to other structures. Other muscles may have to work harder in order to compensate.

arm pain

Feeling sore: lower performance

Finally, it’s clear that we can’t exercise to the best of our ability while suffering from a muscle injury. This is due to the fact that the muscle in question won’t be able to produce the necessary amount of strength. As a result other muscles will become fatigued sooner since they’ll be forced to exert more effort than usual.

Does feeling sore mean no exercise?

Although it may seem like you may need absolute rest while sore, this isn’t the case. Spending two or three days doing nothing can be a major blow to an athlete’s fitness.

Therefore, exercise can be carried out if it doesn’t use the injured structure. If your legs are sore you can work out your arms and core. If your arms are sore, you can go for a run.

It’s also important to clarify that a good way to recover from soreness is to carry out the same exercise that caused the injury, but at a much lower intensity. For example, if you’re sore from running, walking may be beneficial to relieve the pain.

In conclusion, absolute rest isn’t recommended, however, it’s important to fully recover before resuming your regular routine.

  • P. Miller, S. Bailey, M. Barnes et al. The effects of protease supplementation on skeletal muscle function and DOMS following downhill running, Journal of Sports Sciences, 22:4, 365-372, 2004.
  • L. Nicol, D. Rowlands, R. Fazakerly et al. Curcumin supplementation likely attenuates delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Eur J Appl Physiol 115, 1769–1777, 2015.
  • F. Martínez. Las agujetas, ¿una entidad clínica con nombre inapropiado? Apunts: Medicina de l’esport. Vol. 26, Nº 100, págs. 125-134, 1989.