Why do we get sore after a training session?
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) describes a phenomenon of muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness that occurs in the day or two after exercise. This muscle soreness is most frequently felt when you begin a new exercise program, change your exercise routine, or dramatically increase the duration or intensity of your exercise routine.
Although it can be alarming for people new exercise, delayed onset muscle soreness is a normal response to unusual exertion. DOMS is part of an adaptation phases that leads to improvements in stamina and strength as your muscles recover, build and repair.
This muscle pain is not the same as the pain or fatigue you experience during exercise. Delayed soreness is also unlike the acute, sudden and sharp pain from sustaining an injury.
DOMS is generally at its worst within the first 2 days following a new, intense activity and slowly subsides over the next few days.
What Cause’s DOMS
DOMS is thought to be a result of microscopic tearing of the muscle fibres. The amount of tearing (and soreness) depends on how hard and how long you exercise and the type of exercise you are doing.
Any movement you aren’t used to can lead to DOMS, but eccentric muscle contractions (a muscle contracting while it lengthens) seem to cause the most soreness. Examples of eccentric muscle contractions include going down stairs, running downhill, lowering weights and the downward motion of a Squat or Press Up. In addition to small muscle tears there can be associated swelling in a muscle, which may contribute to soreness.
Treatment of DOMS
Unfortunately there’s no one simple way to treat DOMS. There has been an ongoing debate about both the cause and treatment of DOMS. In the past it was thought that gentle stretching was one of the most effective ways to reduce exercise related muscle soreness, however recent studies have found this untrue.
Nothing is proven 100 percent effective; although some people have found the following advice helpful it’s best to try a few things to see what balance and routine works for you. Ultimately, the best advice for treating DOMS is to try and minimise or manage the affects initially.
Some methods that can help include:
– Use of a Foam Roller: Using a foam roller regularly as a part of a warm up and cool down will help towards reducing DOMS.
– Active Recovery: This strategy does have support in the research. Performing easy low-impact aerobic exercise increasing blood flow and is linked with diminished muscle soreness. After an intense workout or competition, use this technique as a part of your cool down.
– Rest and Recover: If you simply wait it out, soreness will go away in 3 to 7 days with no special treatment.
– Sports Massage: Research has found that sports massage may help reduce reported muscle soreness and reduce swelling, although it had no effects on muscle function.
– Use of Ice Baths: Although no clear evidence proves they are effective, many pro athletes use them and claim they work to reduce soreness.
– R.I.C.E: The standard method of treating acute injuries, if your soreness is particularly painful.
– Stretching: Although research doesn’t find stretching alone reduces muscle pain of soreness, many people find it simply feels good.
– Yoga: There is growing support that performing Yoga may reduce DOMS.
– Listen to your body: Avoid any vigorous activity or exercise that increases pain.
Allow the soreness to subside thoroughly before performing any vigorous exercise.
– Warm Up correctly: Some research supports that a warm-up performed immediately prior to unaccustomed eccentric exercise produces small reductions in DOMS.
Pre-hab is better than Re-hab!
While you may not be able to prevent muscle soreness entirely, you may reduce the intensity and duration of muscles soreness if you follow a few exercise recommendations.
– Progress Slowly: The most important prevention method is to gradually increase your exercise time and intensity.
-Warm Up: Ensure you war up thoroughly before activity and cool down completely afterward with a active recovery.
– Use a Personal Trainer if you aren’t sure how to start a workout program that is safe and effective.
Certain muscle pain or soreness can be a sign of a more serious injury. If your muscle soreness does not get better within a week consult your physician.