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Question
Posted by: Olivia Rose-Innes | 2010/07/20

post-exercise muscle stiffness

Hi Ross

If you''re stiff from exercise the previous day, how long should you wait before exercising those muscles again? (This is just moderately stiff)

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi Olivia

You can exercise while stiff, but you need to back off the intensity. That pain you're feeling is caused by tiny, microscopic tears in the muscle, and they take a couple of days to heal.

Now obviously, you shouldn't be loading damaged muscle excessively, which is why you can't or shouldn't go out and train really hard when you're stiff. However, it can be helpful to do very, very light exercise, because this improves blood flow, and I've always felt helps recover faster. If you are a runner, you might even consider trying a swim or cycle for a day or two.

once the pain has subsided, then you're back to normal training. If you had really stiff muscles, then I'd say to take a week before you do the normal level of training, because even after the pain has gone, there is still some underlying 'damage' that must be repaired - pain is not a great indicator. So be patient, take a day or two beyond when pain clears up and ease back into it!

Good luck

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: fitnessdoc | 2010/07/27

Hi Olivia

You can exercise while stiff, but you need to back off the intensity. That pain you're feeling is caused by tiny, microscopic tears in the muscle, and they take a couple of days to heal.

Now obviously, you shouldn't be loading damaged muscle excessively, which is why you can't or shouldn't go out and train really hard when you're stiff. However, it can be helpful to do very, very light exercise, because this improves blood flow, and I've always felt helps recover faster. If you are a runner, you might even consider trying a swim or cycle for a day or two.

once the pain has subsided, then you're back to normal training. If you had really stiff muscles, then I'd say to take a week before you do the normal level of training, because even after the pain has gone, there is still some underlying 'damage' that must be repaired - pain is not a great indicator. So be patient, take a day or two beyond when pain clears up and ease back into it!

Good luck

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