Walking away from an intense workout you would think the pain would be over right? Well, not quite…
Delayed onset muscle soreness or formidably known as DOMS is the pain felt in our muscles usually 1 to 3 days after an intense or unfamiliar bout of exercise.
The damage or ‘micro-trauma’ occurring to your muscle fibres at a cellular level after exercise is thought to be the main cause of DOMS. However, studies have found that factors such as inflammation, build up by-products of metabolic stress and even influences from our nervous system are shown to be more likely causes.
Due to soreness felt your muscles will not be at optimum strength or function the next day, this is thought to be a protective mechanism of the body to prevent further damage or the potential of overtraining. This is one of the main reasons why we do not recommend training the same muscle groups the day after… At least not at the same intensity!
Now there are many methods and myths associated with reducing DOMS (I will not go into the many myths of muscle recovery) However, I will share with you 3 strategies that research has shown may help reduce muscle soreness.
When we say cool down, we mean it! Following your workout at least 5-10mins of mobility work, utilising the foam roller or even light aerobic exercise is recommended to improve movement and attenuate the effect of DOMS. Unfortunately, static stretching has been found to not have an effect muscle soreness, however it is still important for joint and muscle health!
- Nutrition and Rehydration
Adequate nutrition and hydration after exercise is very important in both recovery and reducing DOMS. Caffeine (in small doses!), omega-3 fatty acid, taurine and some BCAA’s are shown to provide anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce DOMS. Don’t forget that proper nutrition is also needed to help those muscles build and recover.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen have been shown to reduce pain in people suffering from DOMS. Although it is best practice to just put up with the pain for a day or two, anti-inflammatories may help if DOMS is a big problem for you. Always make sure to consult with your doctor before taking any medication.
In summary, don't stress. You are not broken, your body is just letting you know that it has done some hard work. DOMS is inevitable so embrace it, welcome it and love it. It will be over sooner than you think!