When you’re sore, your body is trying to send you a clear message: you need time to heal. So, whether you just pushed yourself through an extra-intense spin class, or you had a 90 minute weight lifting session with your trainer (causing you to seriously ‘feel the burn’ in those calves and biceps), soreness is something that you need to listen to—not ignore. Soreness is a sign that your body is changing, growing and strengthening—so go easy on it. Here’s some ways to do just that.

Listen To Your Body (It Knows All)

When it comes to soreness, there are several different kinds—and depending on the type of soreness you’re experiencing, will determine whether you should take a day off from the gym or not. If you recently pushed yourself physically (went past what you thought your body could ever do, such as 100 lunges in one session), you may feel not just sore, but with intense aches the next day. If you’re hobbling from the bed to the bathroom, give yourself some time (a day or two) to heal.

Pushing yourself right after the workout (in which you pushed yourself harder than usual) could result in injury. But, if you have minor soreness (that feel good soreness that results when you lunged, pressed and pushed through your goal), you don’t have to skip a day. However, you do need to monitor your pain, and perhaps adjust your workout.

Here are some tips for a great workout while managing a sore body:

·         Make it light to keep your body right. Plan a light workout to keep the momentum for working out high. If you are too sore to push yourself, focus on a light to moderate level workout, such as jogging instead of sprinting, or climbing stairs instead of sprinting. Swimming is a great workout that is low intensity (take your time doing some freestyle strokes) or simply paddle in the water for a low impact workout that is soothing on your body from head to toe.

Professional male swimmer in a pool with hat and goggles

·         Target the area of your body that isn’t sore. If you’ve recently pushed yourself but you can still handle some sort of aerobic movement, plan on targeting the area of your body that isn’t sore. Has your lower body had it, due to yesterday’s squats? Then make today all about a challenging upper body workout. Push yourself through sets of push-ups, pull-ups and shoulder presses. That way, you’ll keep your body challenged and energized—even despite the soreness (and without risking injury.)

While sustaining a regular workout routine is important, listening to your body is the most important aspect of exercise, of all. If you decide to work out while you’re sore, keep a close watch on your body’s pain level. If you feel discomfort, stop what you’re doing, take a day off and stay well hydrated. Challenging your body is important, but pushing it past its limits can cause injury.