Feeling the pain after an intense workout? Soreness is often a part of any exercise routine, and is a sign of an effective workout. During exercise, moves which stretch and lengthen the muscles, known as eccentric exercises, cause micro-tears in the muscles fibers. These tears are the source of pain and stiffness felt 24-72 hours post workout and is referred to as DOMS, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. But is it a good idea to continue to train when sore? The answer to this question is dependent on two things: the severity of soreness and limitations to the range of motion at the effected joint.

The most effective way to reduce and eliminate manageable muscle soreness is through any measure that increases blood flow to the muscle. Low-Intensity activity, massage, foam rolling, and hot baths are all great examples of activities which will help speed up the recovery period.

However, if the muscle is sore to the touch you are experiencing severe muscle soreness and should be cautious during subsequent training sessions. Continuing to train the effected muscle(s), could actually do more damage and lead to injury. During periods of severe muscle soreness, a person has impaired coordination, less shock absorption, and a shortened range of motion. If you exercise while very sore you are likely to alter your body mechanics putting more stress on ligaments and tendons and therefore increasing your risk of injury.

In general, you should allow 24-48 hours between training sessions which stress the same muscle groups. Large muscles groups such as the leg musculature, require a greater amount of time to recover (48-72 hours). Smaller muscle groups, especially the postural muscles of the core, are built for endurance and therefore may be exercised more frequently. A great way to continue daily workouts while still allowing enough recovery time, would be to split your workout routine by muscle groups.

Consuming 20 grams of protein with 30 grams of carbohydrate post workout will also help speed up the recovery process by providing muscles with the necessary nutrients to repair and build muscle fibers. And transitioning your body from a catabolic(destructive) hormonal state to an anabolic(constructive) hormonal state. Here’s a recipe for one of my favorite post workout green smoothies:

Ingredients(1 large smoothie)

  • 2 big handfuls fresh spinach
  • 1/2 small frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla flavoured protein powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla coconut almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger (optional, aids in digestion)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp spirulina
  • ice

Instructions: Add all ingredients except ice to a blender and blend until almost smooth.Add ice to the jug and blend again until smooth. Add additional liquid if needed until your desired consistency is achieved.