Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the soreness someone experiences 1 to 2 days after doing a workout. In today's article I will be addressing the cause of DOMS and also debunk some of the myths behind DOMS and lastly some ways to alleviate DOMS.
DOMS occurs 1 to 2 days after a workout and the pain tends to peak at up to 3 days after a workout which then tends to quickly dissipate after that. Some common symptoms of people with DOMS are muscles that are tender to touch, inflammation of the muscle that was worked, increased stiffness and reduced range of motion of the working muscle and lastly, temporary loss of muscular strength. Contrary to popular belief, DOMS is not a result of lactic acid buildup in the muscles. DOMS is actually caused by the microscopic tears in your muscle fibers when you perform a workout. These microscopic tears induce a delayed response of your body increasing inflammation of the muscle being worked as a protective mechanism. Any intense workout can cause DOMS, but the eccentric phase of an exercise is really what's known to trigger it. The eccentric phase is the lowering phase of a lift.
DOMS can affect anyone from a recreational lifter all the way to professional athletes. DOMS will usually occur when a person dials up the intensity or volume of their training or perform an exercise or movement that they are not familiar with.
DOMS shouldn't be used as a benchmark of whether you've had a good workout or not. Many things can make you sore, but soreness does not equal muscle growth or an effective workout. Our bodies are extremely capable machines that are good at adapting to the stressors we place on it. In the beginning, it's common for a person to get sore after a workout, but their body quickly adapts over time and thay soreness is reduced workout by workout. So, a person should focus on progressive overload when working out and getting stronger or increasing the total volume in their workouts as this is what will get them where they want to be rather than focusing on being sore.
So, what should one do when they experience DOMS? The popular saying time heals everything is also applicable to DOMS. However, there are some things you can do to make your DOMS more manageable. Firstly, try to stay away from high intensity exercise and heavy lifting while experiencing DOMS as this may worsen your DOMS and delay recovery time, but do keep your muscles moving. Dial back the intensity of the exercises you're performing to keep the muscles moving to reduce stiffness and loss of range of motion. Another way to reduce the sore feeling from DOMS is through the use of topical analgesics. These help with the pain of DOMS, but not the actual muscle recovery. Two other methods of reducing DOMS are cold baths and hot baths. Cold baths have been shown to reduce the effect of DOMS and hot baths have shown to reduce muscle pain and stiffness after a workout.
What can someone do to prevent DOMS? The two things I recommend to someone to prevent DOMS from happening are to be hydrated before, during and after a workout as studies have shown people who stay hydrated tend to experience less muscle soreness after a workout and the second thing is to increase the intensity of your training gradually rather than all of a sudden as this gives your body time to adapt to the new stimulus. In conclusion, if you are experiencing any symptoms of DOMS, do not worry as it is only temporary and you should be back to 100 percent within a couple of days. Focus on progressive overload when working out, not muscle soreness. This is what will keep you progressing in the gym and keep having you hit your goals.