Ever felt that strange burning sensation in your muscles the day or two after your workout? The kind that makes you want to swear when you have to sit down on the toilet or climb a flight of stairs…come on I know you know what I am talking about. Although it might not feel like it but that pain isn’t all bad…it is NORMAL to experience these muscle aches a day or two after training especially if you are new to training, following a new exercise routine, introducing new exercises, using heavier weights etc etc. Sceptical? Well I don't blame you it is an odd concept to get your head around especially when pain usually means BAD. Now don’t get me wrong we don’t want you in SERIOUS pain where you really can’t walk but a little bit of muscle soreness is A-OK… especially if you fit into one of those categories in bold above. It is also important to remember that you don’t have to ache for the workout to have been effective. People often get caught up in wanting to ache BUT this isn’t always necessary. Just because you don’t ache it doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard enough!!!
Keep reading to find out more about DOMS…
Let me explain in a little more detail exactly what that pain you're feeling is. DOMS (1) AKA Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, when you put the muscle under resistance tiny little micro tears on the individual muscle fibres occur and DOMS are caused from inflammation due to exercise(6). These tiny little micro tears dotted around the muscle means that you have pushed that muscle to its physical limit and that has caused it to tear sporadically around the muscle which will have caused inflammation.
Still sceptical?? Yeah we don’t blame you it does sound painful but keep reading; these micro tears even though maybe a little painful they are AWESOME as this is how we GROW and TONE our muscles. The micro tears heal and repair bigger and stronger than they were to prevent the same level of exercise affecting the muscle again… at least until you progress with bigger weights, more volume or just a harder routine.
YOU KNOW YOUR BODY BEST
How do you know if you have DOMS or something more serious like muscle strain (pulled muscle)… you know your body best! Listen to your body.
PREVENTION & CURE
If you have DOMS what is the best way to help it along or to help it to repair faster?
There are several different tips, tricks and methods out there and it usually comes down to finding what works best for you.
One of the most important ways to help to prevent and heal DOMS is a high intake of protein, the reason for this is that proteins (amino acids) are the building blocks that make up muscles. Therefore, when the muscle needs to repair and grow it is going to need a healthy supply of protein; research shows that you should aim to eat between 0.8g and 1g of protein per pound of body weight each day. Protein shakes can be a handy way to meet your protein goals and a convenient way to consume protein post workout. Alternatively you can just eat a protein heavy meal post workout, try and choose lean meats such as chicken breasts, turkey breast, white fish, lean mince etc.
REST & RECOVERY
REST & RECOVERY are often aspects of training that over looked. Rest and recover should be worked into your program; it should not be seen as a separate aspect. Rest and recovery can come in many different forms from sleep to active rest such as a walk, gentle jog or a foam roller session not to mention the importance of nutrition as discussed above.
Natural Supplements: Studies have found that caffeine (3) has links to reducing the effects of DOMS as well as other performance enhancing effects (4). Although caffine has a lot of benefits it must be consumed in moderation as the side effects of consuming too much caffeine can outweigh it's benefits… just like everything MODERATION is key.
“Rolling…Rolling… Rolling down the river…” SFMR…self myofascial release is a style of massage which can be used prior to and after exercise. SFMR is carried out using a foam roller. The foam roller is a great tool; it can help prepare your muscles for exercise as well as aid with recovery post workout.
Despite the obvious benefits from foods high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants there is one slightly random fruit that has a host of benefits when it comes to preventing and treating DOMS…the good old TASTY watermelon. Watermelons contain a decent amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants due to the L-citrulline (5). Studies have found that L-citrulline can be used to treat or more effectively prevent DOMS if consumed before exercise has been carried out.
A favourite method for preventing and healing DOMS are the consumption of BCAAs (Branched-chain amino acids)(5) …basically liquid proteins. BCAAs are known for their ability to improve muscle recovery and reduce the feeling of soreness. BCAAs are great for reducing muscle breakdown, thus conserving tissue during intense training (remember the importance of protein discussed above). They sound hard to obtain and far too complicated right?! WRONG… BCAAs can be found in supplement form (a powder that you can add to water and drink throughout your workout) these are available from any health supplement store…I recommend the Dedicated and prosupps brands. However if supplements aren’t for you then BCAAs are also found naturally occurring in foods that are high in protein, such as meat, chicken, fish, dairy products and eggs.
ROUND UP ROUND UP….
Whilst DOMS is sometimes annoying and feels a lot worse than it sometimes is, it is a natural process that your body goes through to get and is nothing to be feared. The best thing that you can do is to LISTEN to your body, know when to ease off and when to keep pushing through. Ensure you are consuming a decent amount of protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and scheduling in enough REST and RECOVERY in order to build a fitter, stronger, sexier YOU!