If you notice a bit of soreness during your next workout, know that it's normal; both for beginners and more seasoned bodybuilders. Working out with sore leg muscles depends on the severity of your pain. In some cases, a light workout can help relieve the soreness, although only on a temporary basis. But if they are extremely sore, working out may damage them even more.
If your legs are sore from squats, give your muscles time to heal before you work out again. When you do go back to doing squats, pre-workout warm-ups and sticking to an appropriate level of difficulty will help reduce future soreness.
Sore Thighs After Squats
DOMS or delayed-onset muscle soreness can set in 24 to 48 hours after performing your squats says Len Kravitz from the University of New Mexico. Usually disappearing after three to seven days is the norm, but can linger up to 10 long days. Now if your legs are sore from squats immediately after working out, you may have simply overexerted yourself. If you feel pain, not just the usual post-exercise ache, it's an injury and will get worse if you don't take care of it.
Rest to Repair
Your sore quads, and any muscle that you work to exertion, need rest to repair themselves. While your individual threshold may vary, the minimum recommended time between workouts is 48 to 72 hours. That's corroborated by the American Council on Exercise, which states that the bigger muscles — quads and hamstrings — need at least 72 hours to recover. Weakness will be your reward if you work through soreness too often. Over-training also will increase your risk of injury because of the exertion on your muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Mix It Up
If your soreness is DOMS related, a light workout with less weight or fewer repetitions can be performed and may offer temporary relief from your soreness. Switch things up by taking a walk on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. Before you know it, the soreness will be gone and you'll be able to achieve your full range of motion again; and stronger than before. Try massaging your leg muscles as well as soaking them in cold water for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day, to help speed the recovery process.
Warm Up and Start Gradually
An ounce of prevention is how the old saying starts so perform a warm-up before you do your squats. That should include a general warm-up and a specific warm-up according to ExRx.net. A general warm-up, which could include calisthenics or jogging on a treadmill for 10 to 15 minutes, is meant to increase both your body temperature and blood flow to your muscles. A specific warm-up means moving your muscles through the range of motion you will be performing when working out, but without resistance added.
Start slowly if you're a beginner and gradually increase the amount of weight and duration of your workout. Increasing your threshold in increments will give your body time to adjust and can limit the amount of soreness you experience.