Everyone knows that after you’ve had a good, intense workout you’re going to feel sore the next day. But what is it that actually causes the soreness?
Well, the soreness you feel actually has a name. It is called delayed onset muscles soreness, or DOMS for short. DOMS occur anywhere from 6 to 48 hours post exercise and can take a good day or two to ease off.
During your workout (let’s pretend it’s leg day), the eccentric exercises you do, which basically means all the lengthening and shortening of muscle exercises you do, cause micro-traumas in your connective tissue. The tiny little microscopic tears that form the micro trauma inflame and cause your nociceptors to become more sensitive and therefore create an increased sensation of pain. In short, you create tears within your muscle fibres, they swell and you feel pain. Simple!What about lactic acid and waste toxins?
So a huge amount of people think DOMS is caused purely because of lactic acid and waste toxins. This actually is not the case. Yes, lactic acid and toxin build up during exercise causes your muscles to fatigue and even weaken sometimes contributing to DOMS but they are not the primary cause of DOMS.
Lactic acid and waste toxins tend to flush themselves out of the body fairly quickly so it’s mainly just the micro trauma to blame!
So what can I do to stop or reduce DOMS?
There are actually many ways you can reduce DOMS. I will list a few for you…
- Firstly, and probably most importantly, make sure you warm up and cool down. Warming up increases the temperature of your muscles as your blood circulation starts to increase. This helps to loosen and relax your muscles and prepare them for activity. Simple things like a fast walk or light jog will do the trick. Cooling down after your exercise by again going on a light jog and stretching will prevent your muscles from stiffening and making your DOMS worse than they need to be!
- Sports massage is a really effective way of preventing and reducing DOMS. It can be used pre-event (before your workout) to help loosen muscles, prepare them for activity, reduce tension and increase flexibility. It can also be used post event (after your workout) to help flush out any remaining lactic acid or toxins, increase healing of microscopic tears and relieve tension.
- Drinking plenty of fluids can also help to reduce DOMS. Your fluid intake will help to hydrate your muscles and stop them from fatiguing and weakening.
- Don’t give up! Some people can be put off working out because they know they are going to be sore the next day. However, the more you exercise, the stronger and fitter you are going to get and the better your body is going to be able to cope with your workout. Obviously, as you increase the intensity of your workouts you’re still going to get bits of DOMS but the more you train the less it will hurt.
Overall, DOMS isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You may feel a little jelly legged and a bit sore after your workout but hey – No pain No gain! A bit cliché I know…
You can always speak with one of our personal trainers at Fierce Fit if you want a few more hints and tricks!