Is it Normal to be Sore After a CrossFit Workout?

If you are sore after a CrossFit workout, you could be experiencing DOMS.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

Why am I so sore after CrossFit?

Are you sore from your most recent CrossFit workout? It’s usually a few days into your new routine when you wake up, roll out of bed, and you can’t believe how tight and sore your muscles are! It’s important to always speak to your doctor, but this soreness in your muscles is likely due to a common condition called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, also known as “DOMS.” It doesn’t matter if you just started your fitness routine or if you are an experienced fitness enthusiast – many will probably admit to “walking funny” at one time or another due to DOMS!

What is DOMS?

There are many theories as to what causes this muscle soreness after exercise. Many studies show that it is based around connective tissue microtrauma, which occurs mainly in the eccentric (muscle lengthening) phase of movements.  With CrossFit, the model is to provide constantly varied movements week over week, for extended periods of time. This means constant introductions to new movement patterns, which is why even the most athletic sometimes experience soreness from CrossFit.

Some general recommendations to get you through the week

Many also typically experience DOMS when they return to exercise after an extended time off. The muscle soreness typically shows up around 24 hours after the completion of exercise, and can last between 24-48 hours. DOMS is usually described as muscle tenderness, stiffness, or even pain when touching the muscle (and typically will cause moaning and groaning during class warm-ups). The good news is that with a regular workout routine, the muscle soreness that you might experience in the first few weeks of your new workout plan will get better as your body adapts to the stimulus. So it’s important to keep coming to the gym!

Here are some general recommendations if you are experiencing muscle soreness, tenderness, or stiffness. It is very important to:

  1. KEEP MOVING
    1. Take walks to warm-up those muscles,
    2. Join us in class at CrossFit Eminence, and ask your coach to modify you for an “Active Recovery” workout.
    3. Work on some Self Myofascial Release (Foam Rolling) – we can show you how!
  2. EAT AND HYDRATE PROPERLY

DOMS and the seasoned CrossFitter

Even as a seasoned CrossFit Eminence member, it is possible that you might get sore from CrossFit class or a particular week of hard work and exercise. But with time, it usually won’t be as intense. One thing to consider with DOMS as suggested by Webster (2019), is to reframe your attitude toward it, and utilize it as some personal feedback for improvement. 

  1. Use it to justify a rest day. Everyone needs rest days!!
    1. Always listen to your body, if you are very sore, it might be a good idea to not workout and instead, take a full rest day. 
  2. Take it as a sign that your body is adapting to new stimuli.
  3. Use it as downstream feedback on technique and form
    1. Remember that DOMS is typically caused by a new stimulus in the eccentric phase (lowering portion) of the lift. If you experience DOMS in a different area than usual for a common lift, your technique might have been different than normal (which could be either good or a sign that you need improvement in that area).

What if I don’t feel any soreness after working out?

On the contrary, also remember that if you do not experience DOMS, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t working out hard or making progress. Ideally not having DOMS will allow you to workout more and push the intensity more often, eliciting more progress! 

Remember, DOMS is common, especially for those starting or returning to a fitness routine. In fact, many seasoned CrossFitters miss their body feeling sore (and accomplished!)  Don’t let it derail your progress toward your fitness goals. Reframe your thinking toward it and join us for more classes at CrossFit Eminence and/or Eminence Barbell Club – the best gym in Thornton! If you have any other questions, always feel free to reach out – we’d be happy to help. See you in the gym!

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