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Is the absence of muscle inflammation a sign that the workout was unsuccessful?

How many times have you experienced muscle soreness after a workout? And how many times has it happened to you that muscle inflammation simply didin’t accur after a workout?

Many people often consider muscle inflammation to be confirmation that the workout has been successful. But, is muscle inflammation really a confirmation of success?

Inflammation of the muscles, or muscle soreness, is a completely natural reaction of the body, and occurs if the body is exposed to more intense activity than usual. In doing so, the muscles experience stress, and in the process, microdamages occur on the muscle and the body activates its defense mechanism, which we call muscle inflammation. It usually occurs 24 to 48 hours after working out. This, of course, isn’t always the case because there are many other factors that can affect the rate of inflammation.

Symptoms of muscle inflammation include pain, tightness, and a feeling of muscle stiffness. When a muscle runs out of oxygen, the process of accumulating lactic acid begins which triggers muscle microdamage. Then the organism itself initiates certain biochemical processes in order to recover. A higher oxygen supply means better oxygen and nutrient equipment, and thus muscle begins to grow.

In other words, intense working out after a long break, or the introduction of heavier weights, leads to the rupture of muscles that gradually grow, and a sufficient amount of oxygen is needed for recovery.

Reduced oxygen supply can also occur during some other physical activities, not only during training, so the answer to our initial question is negative – the absence of muscle inflammation after training is not an indicator of unsuccessful training.

Muscle growth can be achieved without muscle inflammation. Indeed, sometimes severe inflammation can have a negative impact on muscle mass growth and strength. Severe muscle inflammation can be an indicator of overtraining as the muscles will need more time to recover than to start the growth process.

Should we wait for the soreness to go away or can we continue to train?

The answer to this question is not one-sided. It actually depends on the severity of the muscle inflammation. If the inflammation interferes with our daily tasks, it is quite clear that it will also interfere with our workout, so in that case the only choice is to wait for the body to recover. On the other hand, if we have a lighter soreness of a certain muscle group, we can continue to work on another muscle group.

To sum up, the absence of inflammation is by no means a sign of unsuccessful training. Focus on performing the exercises the right way and using the equipment, and the muscle growth will come with it.

Your Gyms4you team


Sources:

Monitoring the athlete training response: subjective self-reported measures trump commonly used objective measures: a systematic review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4789708

The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20847704

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