What is it?
We all know the benefits of doing a decent workout incorporating changes and alterations in your program periodically – however we normally pay for it the next day from our muscles being sore. It can be a pain in the butt! In some cases literally, however it is totally normal and a sign that you have created tiny micro tears in the muscles exercised. This is typically how our bodies adapt and muscles grow stronger. Its called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness also know as DOMS.
Why does this happen to me?
In most cases people have DOMS after having carried out some form of exercise that has tested them beyond their normal limits. When we exercise we typically perform 4 muscle movements – Eccentric (lengthening), Concentric (shortening), Isometric (static) and Plyometric (combining Eccentric and Concentric). It is the Eccentric or muscle lengthening movements that are responsible for the soreness. For example the lowering phase whilst doing a heavy bench press will apply increased force or tension on the lengthened Pectoral muscle fibers, causing ruptures and microscopic lesions. The micro trauma caused stimulates nociceptors (pain receptors) to cause the sensation of pain.
Why does it hurt the next day?
After placing stress on your muscles they want to heal to adapt and grow stronger. So the pain associated with DOMS is simply a side effect of the healing process. Without getting too scientific we have small amounts of calcium being stored in the damaged muscles slowing cellular respiration and breaking down muscle protein. This process causes pain through inflammation and or a build up of Potassium, fatty acids and Histamines. This normally takes about a day to occur – hence the pain being delayed.
Can I still train?
Staying active or light training to keep your body moving is beneficial. Keeping a steady blood flow to the area helps the healing process so gentle cardio or swimming can be a good idea. It’s a good idea not to train too hard whilst being sore, nothing worse than actually injuring yourself and losing all of your recent results gained!
How can I treat it?
The best way to aid the healing process is to simply draw more blood flow to the sore areas. Some options are as mentioned above light exercise, massage, ice baths, sauna and self- massaging devices such as foam rollers.
DOMS is a normal and natural occurrence that everybody experiences – overtime the severity of DOMS will decrease as you train more consistently and adapt to your fitness program. Once you have adapted to your program – Change it! Your body is an amazing machine, ever adapting to the stress we apply to become stronger.
Stay healthy and keep training.