Ahhh the post-workout soreness. Some people relish waking up the day after a good workout and not being able to comfortably sit down on the toilet (if you know, you know). This group of people also find it oddly disconcerting when they wake up and are not sore after a workout. Feelings of guilt may arise at the thought of wasting a workout and not even being sore the next day. “Did I even work out?” they may ask themselves in dismay.
Today, I want to discuss the myths surrounding soreness and why soreness is not a good indicator of a good workout.
What is soreness?
Here’s a little fun fact for you: science has not yet figured out for sure what causes soreness. Your high school coach may have told you it’s from tears in your muscles, the local gym-bro may have thrown out the fancy “lactic acid build-up,” and others just throw their arms up and say that it is the result of a good workout.
Recent research (although there is very little of it) points to soreness being the result of inflammation in the muscle as a result of repairing broken down tissues. This seems logical however the evidence is still in very short supply.
What we know for sure is that the lactic acid statement is false.
What if I am not sore after a workout?
Not a problem at all. Soreness is simply a byproduct of working out like shivering is the byproduct of being cold. You may be cold and not shivering, but you are still cold.
In the same way, you may have worked out and not be sore the next day, but do not fear, you still worked out.
Here’s the thing, if you are using your muscles and lifting with good form, you are doing an awesome job and will reap the rewards. As your body gets more used to working out more frequently, you will find that you get sore less. This is because your body has adequately adapted to working out and your muscles do not get as inflamed as they did before.
If soreness is something you desire, that’s fine, you just need to make sure that you are changing your routines frequently so that your body is slower to adapt.
Just remember, soreness is neither good nor bad, it’s just a byproduct of working out. If you are putting in the work, you will see the results!
Keep your nose on the grindstone, you will get there!
Jordan Tank, Personal Trainer, Columbus, Ohio
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