Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned veteran of gym life, you have probably experienced a bad case of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is when, the day or days after your workout (24 to 72 hours), your muscles are sore, tender, or even painful. When you start out, you take this as a good sign, following the idea that if your body hurts, you did something right. Others vehemently disagree, saying that excessive pain means you are being too hard on your body and are not lifting correctly. Good, strenuous lifting and exercise should certainly leave you tired, and because lifting is literally breaking down muscle, there should be muscle soreness. This is your body protecting you from overdoing it. However, highly localized and sharp pain is a bad sign. In this article we’ll discuss the causes of DOMS and how you might be able to counteract it.
What Is DOMS?
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is probably the worst whenever you begin new activity, workout, or sport, or when you intensify familiar activities. This is because the movements are new to the muscles, so the damage done is more extensive. Damage in this case, of course, is what you are looking for. Lifting breaks down muscle tissue, and it’s in the recovery period that muscles repair that damage and become stronger and bigger. Microscopic damage occurs to your muscle fibres, and this is why you feel a generalized soreness and stiffness. This is actually good. The more you do this activity, the less microscopic damage, and less delayed onset muscle soreness. This is when you introduce more weight, reps, or variations to increase effectiveness.
How To Reduce DOMS
One reason that people try to reduce DOMS is to get back to the gym on a more frequent basis. But don’t be too impatient. This can cause muscle damage and more pain that will hurt you in the long run. You can’t get rid of delayed muscle soreness altogether, nor do you want to. After all, this is where growth is happening. However, if you are experiencing localized pain, sharp pain, and pain around joints, you can do some things to reduce muscle soreness. Likely you are advancing weight levels to quickly or adding too many reps. Your muscles and joints are reacting negatively to the excess. Most people automatically think that stretching will take care of it. While stretching is a good exercise, it can in fact be done poorly. Stretch after a workout when your muscles are warm, and do slow, careful repetitions to avoid traumatizing your muscles.
Other Treatments For DOMS
There are all kinds of muscle soreness treatment methods and tips out there, so just try a few of them and see what works best for you! For some, cold baths work wonders; others like hot and cold packs, massage, KT tape, or foam rolling. If you are experiencing delayed muscle soreness longer than you think you should, it might because your muscle fibres are becoming knotted in the repair process, thus resulting in tightness, stiffness, and soreness. Foam rolling is great way to self-massage and pull out those muscle fibres for better range of motion and release. A new trend is using KT tape, or kinesiology tape, which has proven somewhat successful in reducing muscle soreness. KT tape merely supports and stabilizes joints and muscles. It is applied over the muscles that are sore to reduce pain and inflammation, relax tired muscles, and give a little added support throughout the day.