Skip exercise for another day or so if your muscles have a limited range of motion or are sore or painful to the touch. Exercising muscles when they're severely sore can lead to overtraining and will negatively affect your performance. You're also more likely to get injured due to a lack of shock absorption and impaired coordination. Give large muscles, such as your hamstrings and quadriceps, about 72 hours to heal and smaller muscles, such as your abs, 48 hours.
Perform 10 minutes of low-intensity cardiovascular exercise to warm up your muscles before your workout. Ride a bike, go for a walk or perform another form of cardio that raises your heart rate and body temperature and gets your blood flowing, resulting in muscles that are more pliable. You shouldn't feel any pain during the warm-up.
Exercise the muscles that aren't sore and avoid working out your sore muscles. This is ideal if you target different areas of your body on different days during strength training. For instance, if your legs are sore from a previous workout, exercise your arms or abdominals while your legs recover.
Train your sore muscles, using only about 30 percent of the resistance that you normally use for one repetition. For instance, if you normally do leg extensions with 100 pounds, do them with 30 pounds while your legs recover. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions and no more than three sets. Repeat this strategy on all sore muscles so they still get some light exercise without being overworked.
Maintain a light, easy pace if you're doing a cardiovascular workout. Exercise at a slightly more intense pace than your warm-up. Go swimming, walking or cycling and maintain a pace that doesn't cause any pain or discomfort and eases some of the tension in your sore muscles.
Cool down after your workout with 10 minutes of low-intensity cardio and some light stretching. Cooling down and stretching regulates your blood flow and promotes flexibility. Gently hold each stretch for about 30 seconds without bouncing.