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My Love-Hate Relationship With Muscle Soreness

muscle soreness

About four minutes into our Sh*t Fit Bottomed Girls Say video, we make a joke about being ridiculously sore. And it’s funny because it’s true. Wearing that exact same outfit, I have laid on my couch, completely flattened by the previous day’s workout, for hours. Or half a day. Or sometimes a full day. Which got me thinking: at what point does being sore actually impede your healthy lifestyle?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a bit of a masochistic in the gym. (This will suffice as proof.) And I like the idea of muscle soreness. I enjoy knowing that I pushed myself and my limits and that because of said muscle pushing, my body is rebuilding itself and getting stronger! And, dude, I LOVE getting stronger.

However, there comes a point when being sooo sore—like ridiculous can-barely-sit-on-the-toilet-without-wincing sore—makes you more like a slug than a human. On a normal day (even with mild soreness), I’ll do chores, walk the dog, be generally goofy and dance around, and cook/prepare healthy meals. But on ridiculous-soreness days? Well, all of that is out the window. If it’s a weekday, I don’t move much from my desk, and if it’s a weekend, I’ll veg on the couch. I’ll get up to eat, go to the bathroom (nope, no showering…but are you surprised?) and take the dog on a much, much shorter walk. But that’s about it. I pretty much do the bare minimum when it comes to movement.

If this happens every couple of weeks, I’m okay with that. But a couple times a week on a regular basis? Well, there’s no way that’s good for an overall healthy lifestyle. After all, I’d have to think the energy balance equation doesn’t work out (pardon the pun) if you go all out for 45 minutes to only spend the next 48 hours being totally sedentary and trying to order the healthiest takeout options you can because you can’t move. You know what I mean?

Obviously, for people who are just getting started with fitness, there will be more regular soreness for a few months. And, yes, there are ways to minimize muscle soreness (I love this and this), but the question still remains: How much muscle soreness is good and when can you get too much of a good thing? Like we’re always saying around here, I subscribe to the “all good things in moderation” approach, where it’s okay to be ridiculously sore every few weeks, but not much more than that. Some mild soreness once or twice a week though? I’m totally okay with that as long as it doesn’t get in the way of my usual healthy lifestyle. It’s all about balance…

Would love to hear your take on this! And do tell, how often are you sore in a typical week? And how sore do you get? Mild or ridiculous? —Jenn


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  1. Lyn says:

    Interesting point of view. I think as you said if you are starting out on your fitness journey you are going to be sore regularly, and you need to push through this.

    I love the feeling of muscle soreness because it means I have challenged my muscles in new ways! I train regularly so don’t really get sore unless I totally switch it up (which I try and do regularly).

    If you train regularly I don’t think you should be getting so sore you can’t move on a regular basis, and if you are, maybe it’s your body’s way of saying take a break.

    I believe in pushing yourself but you also need to listen to your body and you are right, if the pain is stopping you going out and living an active life – something is wrong!

  2. Susan says:

    LOL you look like me after I took my first cross fit class. I visited my parents that weekend and they kept asking if I’d injured my back or something. They just couldn’t understand that a workout had me walking like an elderly person. I’m not afraid of being sore, in fact i love that feeling that you really pushed yourself. but there is such thing as too sore.

  3. sheree says:

    I love that general kind of achey-soreness, especially in my quads after a good run – it’s probably more of a reinforcer for me than a hot shower or any other post-workout reward. I like to think, though, that I’m pretty good at distinguishing “Man, I worked hard!” soreness from “Uh-oh, something isn’t right here!” soreness, which is really the key. Having started working out regularly about 2 years ago now, the “can’t sit on the toilet without wincing” soreness you mentioned doesn’t occur for me too often, BUT I do get a delicious mild ache once or twice a week, usually after my hardest training days (sprints day and long-run day).

  4. adriana says:

    Perfect timing on this post! I love a bit of soreness… makes me feel like what i’m doing is working. But there are limits. I had a free personal trainer session (aka, you need to buy personal trainer sessions) and the guy kicked my butt. It is three days later and i can almost sit and stand without wincing – that is not what working out is about!

  5. Cindy says:

    I am sore, really sore almost every day. My sweet spot were I feel good is Sunday and Monday. I workout 6 days a week and have been doing that for 4 years. I am obese so my body is under strain all the time and I have injuries. Yeah I know I have had it checked out and my blood work is normal.

    I am seeing a naturopathic doctor next to see if he has any clues what is wrong. Right now swimming is the only thing that helps.

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