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Should You Workout When Sore: 101 Guide For Beginners

It is always said that “There is no gain without pain,” and so does it holds when you have just started to exercise.

Whether it is the first day of the new year resolution or that sudden intense urge to get that perfect body, the initial days are always tricky.

And it must not be astonishing to see efforts go in vain because of the pain endured during the initial days of starting to exercise, leading to quitting the goal.

The most common question that arises is, should you workout when sore?

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Many people can no longer tolerate this and give up, saying that exercise is not suitable for them and further continuation of the exercise would only cause harm to them rather than provide any benefit.

And thus, the new resolution fails, and the perfect body seems only a dream. Only a handful of people wonder and acknowledge the actual cause of the pain and find a satisfactory explanation for why this occurs and whether they should continue working with those sore muscles.

If you are one of them who wonders should you workout when sore, this might be the right article for you, and all your doubts must undoubtedly be resolved.

Why Am I Experiencing Muscle Pain?

It is widespread to feel pain and soreness in the muscles after starting a new exercise routine or trying a new exercise regimen.

Many complain of pain early in the morning post 1 day of the exercise or within the first 24 hours after trying something new.

Well, this is very common and is an inevitable experience.

It is very well said that muscle soreness after a workout is an indicator that you have exercised those muscle groups well, and it does hold.

This muscle soreness experienced by many of us may be of different intensity, and the threshold level to cause that sore muscle may also vary from individual to individual.

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The pain felt after or within 24 hours is known as DOMS, abbreviated as Delayed onset muscle soreness. Even after experiencing such intense pain, should you workout when sore?


  • Pain on movement
  • Stiff muscles
  • Muscle soreness
  • Body pain
  • Tiredness
  • A full range of motion is not available.
  • The tight and rigid muscle belly

What Leads To DOMS?

While performing a particular exercise, the different muscle groups of the body are put to work. This causes an increase in the blood flow towards those specific groups of muscles.

During light exercise, the muscles use the oxygen available in the blood and thus carry out aerobic respiration.

As the intensity of the exercise increases, the muscle demands more oxygen, and a point arrives where the body fails to meet the oxygen demand of those muscles and switches to anaerobic respiration.

As a byproduct of anaerobic respiration, there is the production of lactic acid builds up and gets stored in the muscles.

This lactic acid is harmful to the muscles and causes a disturbance in the regular metabolic activity of the muscle group, and causes muscle damage. Under constant fatigue, the muscle tissue undergoes microscopic tears and leads to soreness.

These micro-tears are also the result of overuse injury of the muscle during an intense gym session. After knowing the exact reason behind this pain, should you workout when sore?

Should You Workout When Sore?

Well, it is very obvious to us humans that whenever we experience pain, the most common advice given is to take a rest. And so does it holds in many cases.

But when experiencing sore muscles, prolonged rest may worsen the condition and lead to stiffness of the muscle.

So when confused about whether or not should you workout when sore, the simple answer is yes.

Many peer-reviewed studies have found that this feeling of sore muscle is a body’s natural mechanism to stress and fatigue caused to it.

It is very well experienced by many people worldwide that light exercise helps reduce the soreness in the muscles.

Many other approaches are available to reduce the soreness in the muscles.

These approaches are:

  • Cold Bath
  • Slight stretching
  • Foam rolling
  • Gentle exercise
  • Massage
  • Rest Day
  • Diet

1. Cold Baths

The application of ice and cold water to lower body temperature has been an ancient remedy and is still being widely used among people all over the world.

With the increase in the scientific reasoning behind every approach used, it has been found that cold baths after an intense session of activity help relax the muscles.

The process of inflammation caused due to micro-tears is slowed down, and also the nociceptive receptors are stimulated less, thus causing a decrease in the perception of the pain.

Also, the much less known fact of the application of cold is the reflex vasodilation it causes that leads to an increase in the blood flow towards the muscle and thus helping reduce the soreness of the muscle.

2. Slight Stretching

As the onset muscle soreness doms set in, the muscles tend to undergo a protective mechanism called a spasm.

Well, this is a natural process and causes the muscle belly to shorten, and as a result, the range of motion is markedly affected.

Actively stretching the sore muscles helps elongate the muscle fibers and helps reduce the muscle soreness.

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The stretching of the muscle should also be done before involving in any form of physical activity.

The stretch to the muscle should be held for up to 30 seconds. Stretching the muscle frequently helps to reduce pain.

Also, on days of rest when no intense workouts are done, stretching should be done to prevent doms or, if already present, to reduce doms.

3. Foam Rolling

Another simple yet effective method to reduce the soreness of the muscles is the use of foam rollers.

If the foam rollers are absent, towels rolled up can also be used.

Foam rollers are readily available but require great precision while using them.

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This technique helps reduce the soreness of the muscle by providing a gentle stretch to the muscles.

Usually, the larger muscles groups are stretched using a foam roller.

While using foam rollers, one must take great care of the placement and correct direction, and slow and precise movements.

4. Gentle Exercises

Well, the more research was done, it was noticed that many people said a yes based on their experience to the question should you workout when sore.

It is a myth that while having sore muscles continuing to exercise worsens the condition, the actual proven fact is slight exercises in any form helps to improve the muscle soreness.

The exercises should be of low intensity and not cause fatigue to the muscles.

Low-intensity cardio can be done while focusing on the correct stretching of the sore muscles.

Exercises like walking or swimming are also included in this list.

The mainstay behind continuing to exercise is that it helps with increasing the blood flow towards the sore muscles, thus aiding in the active recovery of the muscles. Also, the muscles recover faster with such a type of regime.

5. Massage

This old technique is beneficial in relaxing the sore muscles while increasing the blood supply to the muscle.

Massaging the muscles while keeping in mind the orientation of the muscle fibers aids in the quick healing of the muscle.

Application of oils or any sort of lubricants helps in smooth and accurate motion.

When combined with all the mentioned methods to reduce soreness, the massage helps in a faster recovery.

6. Rest Day

The importance of a rest day should never be neglected as it is equally important as a good workout.

While planning a workout routine, ample time for rest should also be given to the body.

This helps avoid any new stress to the body and helps in the faster recovery of the sore muscle.

A break from the workouts has proven to be good for the health and helps in muscle recovery.

This can be planned every 3 to 4 days after an intense workout program or once a week if weight training is done.

7. Diet

Diet plays a significant role while the body is recovering and should be carefully designed.

When suffering from doms, a diet rich in antioxidants aids in faster recovery as it helps all the harmful metabolites to wash out from the body.

The diet should also include a good amount of proteins in meat or soya chunks.

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Another common problem that is encountered with doms is dehydration. Thus water intake should be maximum even during the days of rest.

Fresh coconut water or adding any electrolytes to the normal water is a good alternative.


The initial days of exercise or trying any new form of exercise are usually accompanied by a feeling of soreness in the body.

The most common question is should you workout when sore, and the answer to this question is a yes.

The main reason is lactic acid build-up in the body due to anaerobic respiration. Slight exercises aid in increasing the blood supply towards the specific muscle groups and actively removing the harmful metabolite thus formed.

The symptoms may vary from person to person and should not be neglected.

With this feeling of soreness, continuing to exercise helps in reducing the soreness.

Various methods are available that help reduce the soreness. This includes stretching, gentle exercises, cold bath, massage, and using a foam roller.

Diet should also be very well taken care of as it aids in recovery.

By this time, you must certainly got the answer to should you workout when sore and all possible measures to reduce soreness.