I’m sure most, if not all of you have been subjected to some degree of discomfort after a workout. This discomfort is not as excruciating as the pain after an operation. Neither is it as mild as a mosquito bite. It is somewhere in between. It is at best described as a sore feeling.

What Is Delayed Muscle Soreness Syndrome?

The soreness is not felt immediately after a workout. Instead, it is often felt the very next day and this soreness sticks with you for at least the next two days. For beginners who just start working out, the soreness can sometimes last up to a week. I term it the ‘delayed muscle soreness syndrome’.

Do not fret if you are one of those who have or are currently experiencing delayed muscle soreness. In fact, let me congratulate you!  You should feel happy for yourself when you kick into the delayed muscle soreness mode as it means your muscles have been given a good workout.

As a result of the constant pushing, pulling, lifting and squatting motions you have subjected them to, your muscles are now effectively torn. Simply put, the original muscle fibres have been stretched beyond their comfort zone and invariably cannot withstand the stress you are putting them through. Our muscles work in the same manner as our own threshold. When we stretch ourselves beyond a certain limit, we too feel uncomfortable as it means venturing into a new territory.

The soreness occurs because time is required for the muscle to repair the torn fibres and strengthen them for the next workout. It is thus crucial that we subject ourselves to delayed muscle soreness syndrome if we want to develop our muscles and grow stronger.

Identifying Delayed Muscle Soreness Syndrome

According to the feedback from my clients, the delayed muscle soreness syndrome they dislike most is the one that they experience after training their lower body. Yes, that’s your legs! That’s why most of them hate training their legs. According to many, they have to climb the stairs gingerly like a cat, not to mention start walking daintily not unlike a lady with bounded feet for a few days. This is often the scenario after doing squats, lunges and hamstring curls.

For those working other parts of their body such as their deltoids, men find it a challenge to wash their hair as they find it difficult to lift their shoulders after a good deltoid workout. For ladies who have blasted their triceps and biceps, a couple told me they had difficulty hooking their bras the very next day.

What To Do With Delayed Muscle Soreness Syndrome?

There is no escaping the delayed muscle soreness syndrome. In fact, once you have started training seriously, you will get used to it. The soreness feeling is oh-so-familiar that you actually look forward to it the very next day, whether you are training you lats, pecs or other parts of the body.

In fact, the delayed muscle soreness syndrome is an excellent indicator of how hard you have pushed yourself during the training session. If you have huffed and puffed your way through the workout, and yet not feel anything the next day or the following, then it means the weights are too light for your muscles to feel challenged. In other words, you are not lifting heavy enough. Muscles only grow if you stimulate them enough to rip them apart.

On the other extreme, you should not be feeling so sore that you can’t even move and just want to stay in bed. If you do, then it’s not a good sign either as it means you have overtrained.

Because your muscles are still sore and recovering, never subject the same muscle group to a double blast workout until at least 48 hours later. Imagine this, if you keep tearing the fibres apart without giving them time to repair, how can they grow?

I hate to say this but I have to. If you don’t feel the soreness at all, then your workout was a wasted one. You could have better utilized your time watching a movie or gone shopping instead.

Enjoy your delayed muscle soreness while it lasts as it will be over very soon. And then you have to start working hard again during the next training session to experience the same sensation all over again.