You just crushed a really hard workout

Posted: November 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

You just crushed a really hard workout. You upped the load of your training, or you stepped out of your routine and tried a new activity. You feel great — until you wake up the next morning, barely able to move.Enter delayed onset muscle soreness, better known as DOMS. It’s an acronym that athletes and fitness buffs wear with pride.As its name suggests, “DOMS is muscle soreness that becomes evident six-to-eight hours following activity, peaking around 24 to 48 hours post-training,” says Jon Mike, an exercise scientist at the University of New Mexico. While the symptoms will often start to diminish at about 72 hours, “the precise time course and extent of DOMS is highly variable,” Mike says.DOMS is most pronounced when you introduce a new training stimulus — a new activity, increased intensity or volume — or if you are new to physical activity in general.”Your body is making adaptations to better prepare your muscles to do that activity again,” says Lauren Haythe, certified Kinesis Myofascial Integration Practitioner. That’s why on Day 1 at the gym, after doing squats or lunges with 10-15 pound weights, you can be brutally sore the next day.”But, as you continue on, you can build up from there, and you won’t be so sore.While all kinds of muscular contraction can cause soreness, eccentric contraction — where the muscle lengthens as it contracts — is most often associated with DOMS, according to Mike. This includes movements such as running downhill, lowering weights or lowering down into a squat or push-up position.”There is also some evidence that upper body movement creates more soreness than lower body exercises,” says Mike.Muscle discomfort is the most common characteristic of DOMS, but there are other symptoms. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, these may include reduced range of motion and joint stiffness, local swelling and tenderness, and diminished muscle strength. These symptoms appear gradually following exercise (not to be confused with acute pain that may arise during physical activity).No pain, no gain. Lactic acid build-up. An indicator of muscle growth. These are all phrases that we tend to associate with DOMS. While you may think you know everything you need to know about the condition that has you waddling like a duck, you may be surprised by what’s actually happening in your body. DOMS is caused by the build-up of lactic acid.During exercise, your body needs energy, and it breaks down molecules to get that. As a result of this metabolic process, your cells naturally become more acidic which makes your muscles feel like they’re burning. But this isn’t caused by lactate. Lactate is actually a by-product of the metabolic process and serves as a buffer and slows down the rate at which the cells become acidic.”People produce lactate all the time, even at rest. It clears your system 30-minutes to one-hour after working out.A study in Clinics in Sports Medicine found that DOMS is the result of microtrauma in the muscles and surrounding connective tissues, which causes inflammation. The reason that eccentric muscle contraction (think lowering a dumbbell back down in a biceps curl) is more likely to be the culprit is because it places a higher load on your muscles compared to concentric contraction.”It’s the active lengthening of muscle fibers under load. It’s like you’re pulling on a rope, and there’s so much force that the rope starts to tear and pull apart.
There are many factors that influence how DOMS presents itself in individuals.”There is great variability, even between people with similar genetics and even among highly-trained lifters and athletes. The more fit you are, the less susceptible you are to DOMS.It’s true that you will start to feel less sore as your body adapts to your workouts and learns to distribute the workload across your muscle fibers more effectively. That’s why you should regularly change up your exercise routine.
In fact, a certain degree of soreness seems to be necessary.”When muscles repair themselves, they get larger and stronger than before so that [muscle soreness] doesn’t happen again. However, there is also a genetic component to how sensitive we are to pain and soreness.”People can be no-responders, low-responders or high-responders to soreness,If you’re a high-responder, you will experience DOMS more acutely than someone who is a no- or low-responder when given the same training load. While you can’t change your genes, it is important to know where you fall on the spectrum to understand how your body may respond to changes in your workouts.Stop waddling: How to recover from DOMS There are a number of ways to alleviate those can’t-make-it-up-the-stairs symptoms. A sports massage is one good way to reduce the effects.”A massage will move the fluid and blood around in your body which can help heal the microtrauma in your muscles better.A study in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation found massage to be beneficial on both gait and feelings of post-workout soreness.Other common ways to treat DOMS include foam rolling, contrast showers (alternating between hot and cold water), Epsom salt baths, increased protein intake (to increase protein synthesis) and omega-3 supplementation (to reduce inflammation), and sleep.

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