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Soreness…Good or Bad?

If you’ve spent any length of time in or around a gym, I’m guessing that you’ve experienced soreness.

If you’ve been around people that enjoy fitness (and even those that don’t), you’ve no doubt heard them talk about their soreness.

It’s an understandably common topic. I’ve heard people equate being sore to it being an indicator that they got a good workout. I’ve also heard it used as a reason for someone to choose not to workout on a given day.

It’s the former that I’d like to discuss today.

Rather than beat around the bush, I’m just going to get straight to the point: the notion that being sore means that you got a good workout is a belief that I wish would die a quick, painful death. It’s just not the case. There is no evidence, scientific or anecdotal, that points to that being even remotely true.

(Where did this belief come from? I’ve got a few places that I know of, but I’d encourage you to do a bit of self-reflection to understand where your belief of that came from. We don’t want Josh going too far off on a tangent, do we??)

I know what you’re thinking: “But when I feel soreness in my muscles, it let’s me know that I worked out.” Look, if you need a reminder that you worked out, use a post-it.

Think about it from the other side of the coin: if you are not sore after a particular workout, does that mean it wasn’t good? No, that’s absolutely silly.

(And by ‘good’, we mean effective in such a way that moves you closer to your goals.)

Matter of fact, I’d wager that if you woke up feeling not sore you’d probably be more inclined to workout again the next day, right??

So, now to the question in the title – is soreness good or bad? It’s both. And it’s neither. Yep, you guessed it – it depends!

Here’s a great litmus test for you:

Think about the last time you remember being sore from a particular workout. Let’s say for the sake of argument that you did it on a Monday. Could you go in on Tuesday and do the exact same workout on Tuesday? If no, then the soreness is a ‘bad thing.’ Why? Simple – it’s an indicator that you weren’t actually capable of expressing what the workout called for. You were just teaching your body to develop compensatory patterns to play a game of survival.

If you’re doing this fitness thing to thrive and improve your function in your daily life, you should be training in such a way that is sustainable. That means being able to do pretty much the same thing every day…because that’s what life is!

Your kids don’t suddenly stop asking to be carried around on Sunday at the theme park because you are tired and sore from carrying them all over the place on Saturday.

So when is soreness a ‘good thing?’ Great question! We’ll leave that for another day.

people working out in a group fitness class


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