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Should you workout when sore or rest?

Posted by: PFB

Q. Can you settle a long standing argument between my training partner and I, is it true that you should never exercise a sore muscle?

A. Muscle soreness is of two varieties. One, the type that results from accumulated waste products of exertion (e.g., lactic acid in the muscles). The discomfort usually subsides after a minute or two of rest. Once the soreness goes away, you can usually continue exercising without any residual effects.

The second type is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS), and it starts about eight hours after a workout and reaches its peak between 24 and 72 hours later. DOMS is thought to be a result of microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers. The soreness you feel reaches its peak within two days after the activity and subsides over the next few days. A certain amount of DOMS is a reasonable and expected consequence of getting in shape. However, you should make an exception and rest a few days if the symptoms are severe--for example, if you can't sit comfortably or walk up stairs.

''If your muscle is sore to the touch or the soreness limits your range of motion, it's best that you give the muscle at least another day of rest,'' says Alan Mikesky, Ph.D., director of the human performance and biomechanics laboratory at Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis. Otherwise, an ''active rest'' involving light aerobic activity and stretching, and even light lifting, can help alleviate some of the soreness. ''Light activity stimulates bloodflow through the muscles, which removes waste products to help in the repair process,'' says David Docherty, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at the University of Victoria in Canada.

Dr. Docherty also advised: ''If you're not sore to the touch and you have your full range of motion, go to the gym. Start with 10 minutes of cycling, then exercise the achy muscle by performing no more than three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions using a weight that's no heavier than 30 percent of your one-rep maximum.''



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