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My muscles are sore. When can I work out again? Add to ...

Question: If my muscles are really sore, should I wait until the soreness is completely gone before working out again?

Answer: We have all done those workouts that leave us sore for a couple of days. I must confess I sometimes even enjoy that muscle ache. It gives me a perverse sense of accomplishment.

But no matter how you feel about those aches and pains, you don't want them derailing your goals.

Workout regulars might be happy to know that moderate activity may be better for rejuvenation than total rest.

There are two types of recovery: passive and active recovery. Simply stated, passive recovery is when you let the affected muscle recover by doing nothing with that muscle for 24 to 48 hours.

Active recovery is where you do light activity (moderate cardio or dynamic flexibility exercises) to help promote blood flow to the affected muscle.

The general rule is you should plan to passively let a muscle recover for 24 to 48 hours in-between heavy resistance training workouts. But don't take this rule as an excuse to sit on the sofa and watch Gossip Girl the day after a strenuous workout.

If you did a leg workout on Monday that left you stiff, an elliptical workout, or a long walk combined with some dynamic stretches might actually make your legs feel better.

Trainer's Tip: The ratio of passive to active recovery an individual needs depends on their fitness level. In general, the more conditioned you are the more your body will benefit from active recovery. That said, even extremely fit individuals need one total day off a week from exercise for psychological and physical recovery.

Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at trainer@globeandmail.com . She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Kathleen Trotter

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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