It’s totally normal for muscles to get sore after a workout. You might choose to take a day off for active recovery, or you might decide that you want to power through it. But is working out when sore safe to do?

Here’s what you need to know.

Working Out When Sore: Yes or No?

First, we want to call out there there’s a big difference between soreness and injury. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort that you think might be the latter of the two, then it’s best to rest and give your body a chance to heal. Not sure which one you’re dealing with? Read our blog on soreness versus injury.

Now, if you’re confident that you’re dealing with your average soreness, what does this mean for your next training sesh?

It might be easier to point out times when you definitely should not train when sore:

  • If you need any type of painkiller to get through the workout.
  • If the soreness lasts several days.
  • If training makes it hurt even worse.

If this sounds like you, make time for rest and recovery and consider visiting a PT, chiropractor, or some other sports medicine professional.

If you’re pretty sure what you’ve got is your run-of-the-mill delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), then it’s probably safe to train. Here are a few tips for how you can safely get through that next workout.

  • Try to alternate body parts. If you’re experiencing soreness in your upper body, lay off the presses and kipping pull-ups and opt for squats, lunges, or deadlifts.
  • Lower the intensity. This can mean decreasing reps, reducing weight, or a combination of both.
  • Make time for active recovery. Do a casual row or go for a light jog. Spend time on the foam roller or a lacrosse ball. Yes, you can treat active recovery as the workout itself!

Speaking of active recovery, importantly, remember that this is the time when your body heals. Listen to your body! If it’s telling you to rest, then rest, because that’s what it needs. Trust that your muscles are going to heal and recharge, and you can hit the next WOD feeling stronger than ever. Pushing through pain is only going to exacerbate the issue. Recovery isn’t just a benefit; it’s mandatory.

So, working out when sore is safe to do, as long as it’s not soreness stemming from an injury, and it doesn’t make the pain any worse. Listen to the cues your body is giving you, dedicate time to rest, and adjust your training appropriately. Soreness is temporary! You’ll be back at it in no time.

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