Mohammad Ali said it best…“float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”.
That is the ready state feeling of any athlete who looks to excel in their performance.
…Ready for action.
…Ready to compete with your best self.
…Ready to dominate and earn the MVP award.
…Ready to be SORE? Umh…no thanks!
If you’re sore from a tough training session, then you diminish your potential the next day, or two…or three.
Soreness can cause excessive stiffness.
That compressive physical state makes you weaker and more vulnerable to breakdown.
You lose the dynamic, fluid and explosive nature you need to express your athleticism.
The answer is not to play it safe and never train hard out of fear of soreness.
Instead embrace soreness by understanding how and why it happens.
Then you can use a proactive approach to your training and recovery to help reduce its impact.
The biological responses that cause soreness are complex and not yet fully understood. So I’ll spare you all the possible theories.
Research shows that there are several contributing factors.
The Unfamiliar in your training is the largest. This is when you do a different version of an exercise it can be a shock to your system.
That includes a change in:
Load (weight / intensity)
Direction (plane of movement)
Range of motion (shorter or longer distance).
Muscle contraction (concentric, isometric, eccentric focus)
Type of resistance (free weight, machine, resistance band, etc.)
There are also 4 non-training factors that play a role in the likelihood and severity of soreness. They are:
- Poor sleep
- A stressed mental and emotional state
I know it’s a lot of variables to wrap your head around. So I’m going to leave it at that.
There’s enough info for you to see the many things you can do from a preventative standpoint. Your genetics is the only outlier.
10 tips to beat soreness.
- Be strategic when you add in a level of unfamiliarity. Expect that there will be some soreness. And don’t expect to hit any personal records in the following days.
- Be consistent with your training schedule. Taking too much time off from an exercise or all exercise will lead to soreness.
- Add variability into your program with the “unfamiliar” options I listed above.
- Manage intensity. Keep your perceived effort level in check. If it exceeds a 7/10, then you increase the risk for soreness. *You can still achieve great results without entering the red zone (8-10/10).
- Practice “fast & loose” movements between sets so that tension doesn’t build and linger.
- Use the right amount of recovery and hydration within your workout to optimize your ready state.
- Manage your stress before you bring in the unfamiliar. No matter the source of stress, it can migrate into your muscles and cause stiffness. That’ll take away from your “ready state”.
- Adequate rest with quality sleep and nutrition will not decrease soreness. But it will help create the right internal environment for you to heal and regenerate faster.
- Keep moving. Don’t let soreness discourage you from being active.
- Rolling and mobility work will not decrease existing soreness. But doing so on a regular basis will help keep your joints healthy, and your movement efficient. This will help reduce the over stiffness that can be attributed to soreness. By following my Search and Rescue Mobility program you will give your body a leg up on soreness.
There’s no need to be sore every time.
But expect it on occasion as part of the process.
That’s why it’s crucial to be strategic and proactive in your program management.
That’s how to stay athletic!