If you’ve ever stood at the bottom of a flight of stairs after leg day and groaned out loud, you know what it’s like to have sore muscles. For many, feeling sore the next day is proof of a good workout. Still, people may wonder how to treat soreness after training, and when it’s okay to start lifting again. Here’s how to treat sore muscles after strength training.
Feeling Sore is a Good Thing, Right?
It’s not usually a bad sign. If you’re new to strength training, or if you routinely change up your exercises and increase weights, it’s common, and even expected, to feel sore. Typically, you’ll feel this tenderness fairly symmetrically, and it will develop between 24 and 36 hours after your workout. If you aren’t feeling better within three days, or if you notice specific pain in a certain area, it could be a sign of a pulled muscle or something more serious. This is where it’s important to remember proper technique. If you have any uncertainty navigating the gym yourself, a personal trainer may be in order.
A Big Red Flag
If you notice a change in the color of urine – darker, or brown – it could be a sign of an uncommon but problematic condition related to overtraining. It’s called rhabdomyolysis, and it’s caused by muscles that are breaking down abnormally and filtering through the kidneys. If this is something you notice after an especially hard workout, you should have it checked out by a doctor.
How to Treat Sore Muscles
You may have heard that stretching or icing can be effective in treating soreness, but the evidence isn’t conclusive. The best thing you can do is actually more exercise, albeit on the light side. You can also minimize soreness going forward with proper hydration, adequate rest and recovery, and nourishing recovery meals after training.
In most cases, your instinct that feeling sore is just a side effect of a great workout is a good one.