Yesterday you started a new workout program. Your personal trainer had you jumping through the air, crawling on the floor and using just about every muscle in your body and machine in the gym. This type of physical challenge is great for your ego and calorie-burning skills, but it can leave your body feeling sore and weak. Today, getting out of bed might be the peak of your physical activity.
Fatigue and soreness are natural side effects of a power-packed workout. As you work out, your muscles will stretch and tear. While this might sound severe, it is actually pretty basic and happens every time you engage in activity. These small tears and stretching motions allow your muscles to grow and gain strength. The tears aren’t severe and the stretching isn’t harmful to your body. In fact, putting your body through this kind of physical challenge is going to help you get fit. And after your first day of a new workout, you are going to feel it.
Post-workout soreness comes from the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles. This acid is able to penetrate the small cracks and tears that develop during your workout, and result in severe and lingering soreness. This is the reason why you may feel a deep burning sensation and could even find it difficult to walk or raise your hands over your heads fully—especially after a workout that is targeting muscles you don’t typically use. Those one-time complacent and unused muscles are put to the test, and that results in a heightened sense of soreness the next day.
When soreness strikes, the answer might be just what you want to avoid: more exercise. When lactic acid builds up in your muscles, you are going to feel sore until it makes its way out. The best way to get rid of that lactic acid is to jump right back in and stretch those muscles. Engaging in cool down and low-intensity activities following a workout and the next day can really help you recover from an intense workout from the day before.
There are some workouts that should be staples in your day following an intense workout. Yoga, swimming and lightweight cardio activities like walking or biking are great ways to encourage muscle movement and push that lactic acid out of your body.
While it may be tempting, don’t take a day off following an intense workout session. Just getting up and being active—even at half speed—can really help you feel better the next day.