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Excessive tiredness is a sign that you haven't recovered from a workout.
Persistent muscle soreness after a workout can be a real pain. Resistance exercise causes micro-tears in the muscle fibers that can result not only in soreness, but also stiffness, swelling and loss of strength. The combination of these symptoms is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. According to Johndavid Maes and Len Kravitz, Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico, symptoms usually peak 24 to 72 hours after a workout, and full recovery can take up to 10 days.
Expect a Delay
According to the American Council on Exercise, DOMS is primarily triggered by eccentric exercise, which is the phase of an exercise in which the muscle is lengthening. For example in a biceps curl, the eccentric part of the exercise is when you lower the weight back down.
DOMS doesn't occur after every exercise session. Kravitz and Maes explain that it is more likely to happen when you initiate an exercise program or come back to exercise after time off, or when you increase the intensity or frequency of an exercise program. Your body quickly adapts to exercise, so the soreness greatly decreases after the first experience.
Rest and Recover
Recovery time depends on how much damage was done. A very intense workout when you've not been exercising can cause severe pain, stiffness and swelling. You might have difficulty walking or raising your arms. This is a sure sign that you should not be working out.
If the effects are milder, you can exercise the next day. However, it is a good idea to avoid strenuously exercising the same muscles that feel sore. If your arms and upper back are sore because you did an upper body workout, do cardio or a lower body workout until your upper body soreness has dissipated.
The American Council on Exercise warns that exercising a sore muscle group increases the risk of injury. In addition to soreness and weakness, the affected muscles may lack coordination and have decreased range of motion. Exerting more force on tired muscles could cause a strain or tear.
Continually working out with sore muscles can lead to overtraining syndrome, a condition in which the body never has time to fully recover, explains ACE. Overtraining can lead to injury, compromised immune function, depression, fatigue and insomnia.
Prevent and Treat DOMS
There isn't much you can do to speed recovery from DOMS. The best thing you can do is rest, hydrate and eat nutritious foods. A little light cardio exercise can get the blood flowing to sore muscles and provide temporary relief. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning in 2013 concluded that light exercises without weight encouraged blood flow to the sore muscle group and were just as effective as massage for providing temporary relief from DOMS.
Kravitz and Maes advise gradually introducing new activities into your routine and slowly increasing intensity to reduce DOMS. They also note that warming up before a workout can prevent muscle damage and DOMS.