True or False: If you aren't sore, you're not working hard enough?

For some struggling to get off the toilet after a day of lunges is like a badge of honor.  In fact, many people believe that if you’re not sore the next day then you’re not working out hard enough. But that’s just not true.

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Soreness is inflammation and the chemical response to inflammation; a direct result of microscopic muscle tears that take place throughout the workout.  It’s part of the necessary repair and rebuilding process that leads to improved strength and fitness. 

For many, soreness acts as an indicator of a great workout. But this is a shortsighted view of exercise benefits and can have detrimental effects in the long run.  Too much soreness too often leads to overtraining, which in turn leads to overuse injuries.  Unfortunately, by the time you notice, you are too deep to stop the process.  Aiming for and achieving soreness week in and week out is inviting disaster.

Think longevity and aim for a smarter measure of exercise success.  Are you staying consistent with your program and generally enjoying your exercise routine?  Do you feel energetic and alert most days?  Do your workouts continue to challenge you?  These are the things you should focus on.  

Of course, if you’re pushing yourself and aiming for progress, you will inevitably feel muscle soreness.  That’s a good thing.  Just make sure you stay focused on the big picture - rest, recovery, hydration and nutrition – all the ingredients necessary for lifelong health.