Starting out exercise and get sore muscles or a general feeling of stiffness a few days later?
Changing a program and the next day you wake up sore?
Moving onto strength training and using muscles you’ve never used before resulting in pain over the next few days?
If ANY of these sound like scenarios you have been in or sound familiar, you may be suffering from classic DOMS!
WHAT ARE DOMS?
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain/stiffness/swelling associated with new/unusual exercises or movements that result several hours post activity. This can occur to ANYONE – those who are unaccustomed to exercise or those who exercise regularly and complete a random bout of strenuous exercise.
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
When movement exceeds usual routine e.g. new exercise – weights, tabata, interval, endurance training etc. the muscles undergo micro-tears, resulting in fluid flowing through the muscles and eventuates into the feeling of soreness (from the muscle tears) and swelling (from plasma movement). It is more common when the muscle undergoes an eccentric phase (lengthening phase). The pain generally last no more than 72 hours and peaks at approximately 48 hours post exercise.
HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE DOMS?
If the pain lasts longer than 72 hours after exercise you may have done further damage to the muscle fibres that is beyond repair. It is important to consult your doctor if this is the case!
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO LOVE SCIENCE:
”Up to six hypothesised theories have been proposed for the mechanism of DOMS, namely: lactic acid, muscle spasm, connective tissue damage, muscle damage, inflammation and the enzyme efflux theories. However, an integration of two or more theories is likely to explain muscle soreness.” For more info please follow the link below – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12617692
HOW CAN I HELP MINIMISE DOMS?
- Ease yourself into ANY exercise regime – don’t go full guns blazing!
- Take pain killers (NSAIDS) e.g. ibuprofen and heat packs to help minimise pain and reduce swelling
- Compression wear? – this is still a debatable area. Some studies show it helps to reduce swelling others argue it is a placebo. Regardless it should be noted that the benefits of compression stockings seen in unhealthy individuals may not be the same as those that are healthy/athletic individuals. A really good article which answers some physiological results of wearing compression wear – http://www.active.com/triathlon/articles/the-physiology-behind-compression-clothes
- Keep moving – keep the blood flowing and muscles contracting but at a lower intensity
- Stretching/yoga – anything from foam rolling to PNF stretches help minimise pain and are a therapeutic mechanism used to reduce the affect of DOMS
- REST – probably the best and most effective to help but keeping moving during this rest period is equally as important – so reduce your workload
For some, notebly athletes, DOMS are an embraceable event as they show they still have room for improvement in certain areas, but for the majority of us they are simply…PAINFUL.
If anyone has any other questions they would like answered please comment below or ask away on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LauraMajewskiSportScientist
Yours in – LIFE. JOURNEY. MOVEMENT,