Sore Muscles: To Rest or Workout...that IS the question.

You are 3 days into your new workout routine and you are SORE! What does that mean? Should you take a rest day to let your muscles heal, and then get back into it? First I want you to consider these two questions:  Am I feeling sore because I am working muscles that I normally do not? Or am I in pain from an injury?
One thing we do know is that gains are made by pushing yourself to the limit and then some. It’s the “then some” that is unique to each individual. Each person has a different body type and will have a different threshold for activity and exercise. There are a few things to consider when pushing yourself to get into shape. Factors such as age, baseline strength, and previous injuries will determine what your threshold is.

Pushing yourself will result in muscle strength and endurance gains and is often accompanied by a healthy amount of muscle soreness. But it is important that you are able to maintain the proper form when exercising. A good sign of pushing yourself versus injury is loss of or inability to maintain proper form with exercise. This means STOP or REST to prevent injury! That is your limit. Pushing yourself beyond your threshold can result in pain (not soreness) and potentially injuries. 

sore muscles, fitness motivation

If that is the pain you are feeling then you should contact your doctor. If you fit into the soreness category it’s likely because you are pushed yourself within a healthy limit for strength gains. For people new to working out, this might be an area where you are unsure if it is soreness or pain. Here are a few factors that will help you determine this. 


If your muscles feel tired during your workout and you are feeling a little burning that is normal. Your muscles may be tender to touch, and feel minimal dull, tight, ache while at rest. This will become apparent the first 24-72 hours after your workout and should last about 2-3 days. The feeling should be happening within your muscles, and often worsens when you are sitting still. You can continue to exercise while you are sore. 

I STILL after three years of working out at least 5 days a week feel sore after workouts. This usually happens when I switch up my program, or increase my weights. If there is ever a time where I am not feeling fatigue or soreness, I like to switch up my routine!


If you feel a sharp ache or pain when exercising OR at rest this is a sign of injury. This will typically come on during your workout or within the first 24 hours of activity. This pain often lingers if it is not addressed and can often be felt in your muscles OR joints. The pain might worsen with continued activity and you should consult with a medical professional if the pain is extreme, and especially if it lasts more than 1-2 weeks. I always say better safe than sorry!

What NOT to do!

During my first fitness program I started feeling a sharp pain down one side of my lower back shooting into my leg. I decided that I was going to be a tough guy and ignore it. This went on for MONTHS. The pain gradually got worse until one day I couldn't do anything without being in pain. I couldn't sit, stand, or workout. I finally understood why the phrase 'Pain in the Ass' was such an insult! Because I waited so long to seek a medical opinion I did myself a horrible disservice. I was unable to workout for 3 months because I had injured a ligament, and I needed to let it heal properly. Long story short...don't be a tough guy! If you think there is something wrong, go see your doc! 

pain in the ass

One of the main reasons I finally succeeded with fitness was because of the way that Beachbody programs are laid out for me. I don't like to think...I just like to push play and do what they say. The good thing about that is when it comes to muscle soreness these programs are designed so that you do not work the same muscle group two days in a row. That means that your body has time to rest and recover. 

So why do you feel sore after working out?

foam roller, sore muscles, motivation, workout, fitness, Jaime Messina

When you put stress on your muscles during a workout the muscle fibers go through a normal break down process. This process requires the muscle fibers to repair and rebuild in order for them to build up. This is the soreness (often misconceived as pain) you are feeling is your body. Your muscles are healing and muscles adapting to your fitness program. For those of you just starting out in your fitness journey, sore muscles can be intimidating. Don't worry! It is all part of the process and eventually you won't be sore after your workout! There are some ways to help you adapt to your new routine, and ease the soreness caused by working out. 

Moving around and stretching your muscles will provide some relief for your soreness. I also find that using a foam roller both before my workouts, and to relieve soreness is very helpful. A foam roller is basically an easy way to give yourself a massage which helps to release muscle tightness and trigger points (you might know these trigger points as knots).

Don't know how to use a foam roller? Check out this video!
If you are looking for support through your fitness journey I would love to hear from you! Send me an email at and we can talk! 


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