No—it’s not the end of the world! Yes—it’s hard to get off the toilet! If you are an athlete and serious about your training- you’re familiar with muscle soreness. Sometimes it feels pretty rough to get rolling at the gym but soreness shouldn’t be a huge training barrier. Here’s a question—can you tell the difference between soreness and pain? Is this just a question of experience? Do you know the differences between acute and delayed muscle soreness?
If you don’t have any injuries or issues maybe this isn’t too difficult. However, when you’re working through a injury—things change and this can get a little confusing. I wrote this article to provide a guide for athletes training through rough spots. My hope is for athletes to avoid setbacks and that feeling you get when you thought you were making progress, only to get frustrated and confused when things aren’t moving forward.
First, let’s break down the differences between acute and delayed muscle soreness so we have a good baseline knowledge of soreness behavior.
Acute Muscle Soreness
- Soreness during or directly after strenuous exercise performed to the point of exhaustion
- Lasting seconds to minutes
- Soreness prior to muscle exhaustion
- Lasting minutes to hours
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
- Soreness develops 12 to 24 hours after the exercise session
- Lasting up to 72 hours after exercise
- Decreased ROM during muscle soreness
- Decreased muscle strength prior to onset of muscle soreness that persists for up to 10 days after soreness has subsided
- Soreness lasting beyond 72 hours
- Decreased ROM after soreness subsides
- Decreased muscle strength lasting longer than 10-14 days
Now that we have our soreness behavior down, let’s talk about some programming adjustments for soreness so that it doesn’t turn into a bigger problem!
- If muscle soreness increases from baseline and during warm up… Take 3 days off and do not progress program. May use pain free accessory work. Place emphasis on high intensity upper or lower body cardio to allow nervous system down-regulation.
- If muscle soreness is present during warm-up, subsides as warm-up continues, but returns during working sets… 2 days off, attempt accessory work and do not progress program. Place emphasis on high intensity upper or lower body cardio or low level continues activity as tolerated to allow nervous system down-regulation.
- If muscle soreness is present during warm-up and subsides as warm-up continues… Attempt working sets, continue if soreness does not increase and may progress training next session.
- If muscle soreness is present 12-72 hours after training session… Follow warm up rules above and may advance training next session accordingly.
I hope this article is helpful. If you enjoyed, please subscribe and share the knowledge!