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DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

This blog post was inspired by spending the weekend with our aunty and watching her struggle to walk and not understanding why she was so sore after doing ONE workout from a YouTube video. “But I play soccer and I ride my stationary bike a few times a week!" she said. She is a very fit 56 year old mother of 4 adult children.

So why did she get so sore after one workout? And what can you do to prevent muscle soreness? Well I'm here to help!


What is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) 

The mechanism of delayed onset muscle soreness is not yet understood, but the pain is ultimately thought to be a result of microtrauma (very small scale mechanical damage to the muscle - which is a good thing btw). 

DOMS can feel like the following

  • Achy and sore muscles that are tender to touch and move
  • Muscle and joint stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion 
  • Increased aching and soreness when the affected muscle is stretched
  • Temporary muscle weakness 

SIDE NOTE: It's totally normal and nothing to stress about!

The microtraumas that occur to muscles during strenuous exercise is necessary to build muscle and strength. To build muscle, we must first break it down so then it grows back stronger, which is all a part of the physical adaptation process. Which is why after a bout of exercise, it is important to eat sufficient protein and nutrients, and ensure we give it proper recovery time so that the muscle can repair itself to then grow back stronger. 

Anyway, back to these microtraumas, they cause swelling and inflammation in the tissue surrounding the muscle fibres, which then activate certain nerve endings. In particular, the ones that induce dull, aching pain signals … then HELLO SORENESS!


How you might get DOMS?

The reason we get it is because we've done something that the muscle isn't used to. My aunty does a lot of AEROBIC exercise so doing a more STRENGTH training routine, that her body wasn't used to, has caused her soreness. Soreness typically comes into play when you’ve introduced too big of a new variable to your training e.g. a faster pace, heavier weights, or a higher incline. You want to push yourself in your workouts, but you don’t want to constantly be sore and unable to move around properly. When you are experiencing DOMS, start using it to gauge your intensity levels and learn more about what your body can handle in any given workout. The amount of DOMS you have is not something you should use as a marker of work effort. Some people don’t even get DOMS because of their genetics, so if you don’t get sore after workout don’t think you didn’t work hard enough because that’s not true!

How do you reduce it?

Ways to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness include:

  • Gradually increasing the intensity of a new exercise program
  • Always warm up and cool down
  • Stretch AFTER exercise not before
  • Do dynamic movements before exercise (such as star jumps, leg swings)
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Ensure you're eating adequate protein in your diet
  • Drink a lot of water
  • Make one of your scheduled rest days an active recovery day. An active recovery day is a fun way to get out and do some light exercise like easy hiking, yoga, or swimming that you may not feel is even exercise!

If you have DOMS, moving around will keep your blood circulating around the body so it can take what is necessary to the muscles to kickstart the healing process. If you have DOMS, try to either have an active recovery day or don’t go too hard in your session as you may cause injury.

 

Do you have a funny story to tell about delayed onset muscle soreness? Leave it in the comment box below!

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