the benefits of soreness

Photo credit {totally my arm, clearly}

A certain someone and I got into a little tiff over her declaration that she didn’t feel like she was getting a good work out unless she was sore. “That’s dumb” accidentally slipped out of my mouth, when instead I meant, “Hm. It’s interesting that you see it that way. I feel differently.”

But this difference of opinion got me interested- is either of us right? I hypothesized that the answer would be somewhere in the middle {isn’t it always?!} but decided to do some research to find some answers.

She said many people feel the same way she does, which explains the prevalence of the phrase “No pain, no gain.” For the sake of this discussion, let’s ignore the idea of pain and focus instead on soreness.

This concept of soreness after exercise is called DOMS- delayed onset muscle soreness. If I refer to DOMS, that’s what I mean!

One of the first things I stumbled upon was an article explaining why sore muscles after a work out doesn’t mean they’re growing faster. It explains that exercise can cause inflammation, which leads to soreness. It also says this: “However, muscle soreness is not generally a good indicator of exercise-induced damage. And a lack of muscle soreness doesn’t tell you whether or not exercise-induced muscle damage has been repaired.”

Likewise: “Muscle soreness is nothing more than a sign that you did something your body wasn’t used to, or performed an exercise that just so happens to trigger more soreness than others.”

Christina of Life Fitness Blog reiterates this idea: “Soreness does not mean you got a great workout, just a different one.”

So I think the bottom line is this: our bodies become accustomed to certain exercises and it is good to mix things up. However, just because these changes produce soreness does not make them inherently better than non-sore producing workouts.



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