by Nicole Wilkins


You had a great workout yesterday, but this morning you woke up stiff and achy all over. You knew it was coming but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Soreness can be a turnoff – especially when muscles are tender to the touch and everyday activities like sitting down and getting up are painful. But the hurt you’re feeling isn’t all bad news. Here’s why it’s OK to be a little sore, and 6 really easy things you can do when the pain is so bad it’s giving you second thoughts about pushing it too hard your next workout.

Soreness is mostly the result of micro-tears to muscle cells. The eccentric phase of an exercise – the lowering of the weight – typically results in more damage than the concentric (lifting) phase. You feel this as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) a day or two later. Here are other factors that can make you go 😖.

• Beginners should expect a good deal of soreness as the body is just not used to training. With time, provided that you’re training consistently, eating properly, and resting enough to recover between workouts, the degree of soreness will lessen. In other words, your body will adapt to the new stimulus of working out. 💪

• Even with all my years of training, when I throw a new exercise into my workout – especially if it works the muscle from an angle that I’m not used to – I usually feel it more than usual. 🏋️‍♀️

• Doing more volume (sets/reps), introducing drop sets, rest-pause reps, time-under-tension, and other intensity techniques that you don’t use on a consistent basis.

A little pain, where you can feel it when you stretch or contract the muscle, is a sign that your workouts are working. Controlled damage to muscles (supported by proper nutrition and recovery of course!) is what makes them grow bigger and stronger.

You should be ready to train the same body part within 48-72 hours. But if the soreness lingers longer than that and causes you to miss workouts? In those cases, you should take active steps to relieve the pain, so here are 6 quick and easy fixes to help you do just that.

1. Foam Roll It This is a form of self-myofascial release, a technique where you apply pressure to a muscle or area of your body to increase blood flow. What I love most about foam rolling is that I can do it anywhere. I foam roll at least once a day, usually while watching TV. 😁

2. Stretch It This is another activity I do everyday. Stretching before and after workouts increases blood flow to muscles and helps with recovery.

3. Feed It & Rest It Training in the gym is only one part of the equation in the fitness lifestyle. The other parts are nutrition and rest. The workouts are the stimulus to your muscles, and the food and rest help them adapt. Keep your macros and calories at optimal levels, and get enough rest and sleep to ensure that your body recovers properly. 🍱 😴

4. Train It I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but pumping nutrient rich blood into the muscle can help speed recovery. If you’re experiencing extreme soreness where you can barely move, then I recommend resting a few extra days. If it’s not that bad, go ahead and do a light, reduced volume pumping session. You just want to get blood into the muscle, not tear it down further.

5. Soak It Kicking back in a warm bath sounds good period! It’s especially helpful for soreness because it increases circulation (blood flow) and relaxes your muscles (and mind). 🛀

6. Massage It There are many different types and which you choose will depend on how sore you are and your pain tolerance levels. For example, deep tissue massage might be too much to handle if you’re really sore. Tell your masseuse and together you can decide on which type is best.

I’ve been working out since high school, so being sore is just a part of life for me. I don’t even think about it much, it usually makes me feel like I gave it my all in the gym.

If you are coming back to the weights after taking an extended break, then would I ease back into training to avoid overdoing it and being so sore that you’re forced to miss workouts.

So don’t worry too much about it. Instead, focus on getting a good workout. Pay attention to the recovery work done between training sessions to help ease soreness, but also to reduce the risk of injury and keep your body functioning properly. Before you know it, you won’t even be thinking about it anymore, either! 👍


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One of the biggest names in the fitness industry, Nicole Wilkins is a world-record holding four-time Figure Olympia Champion and 2012 IFPA Personal Trainer of the Year. Nicole earned her BA in Wellness, Health Promotion and Injury Prevention at Oakland University. The owner and founder of nPower Nutrition, Nicole has helped thousands of people start living a healthier lifestyle and reach their fitness goals.

See Nicole’s Bio!