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Q: Should I wait until my sore muscles recover before working them again?

A: “The quick answer is yes,” says Scott K. Lynn, PhD, associate professor of kinesiology at California State University in Fullerton, Calif. “Having appropriate rest between workouts and work cycles is essential to accomplishing training goals — it’s during the recovery and regeneration period that your muscles heal themselves.”

It’s also crucial you get proper nutrition and sleep. “You can speed the regeneration process by doing ‘active recovery’ such as low-impact exercise and hydrotherapy [e.g., range-of-motion drills in the pool and alternating hot-cold baths],” adds Lynn. “Self-massage using foam rollers, sticks, tennis balls or golf balls can also loosen tight spots.”

Most experts recommend alternating movements and muscle groups each day to allow certain muscle groups to rest while working others. Consult with a fitness professional to create a long-term strategy.

Whole truth? I hardly ever wait until I’m no longer sore, and I’ve suffered no ill effects. But you should keep the experts’ advice in mind, and experiment to find out what gives you the best results.

Jen
Jen Sinkler

Jen Sinkler, PCC, RKC-II, is a fitness writer and personal trainer based in Minneapolis. Her website is www.jensinkler.com.

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