Chances are if you have increased your training schedule or even just started to work out after a long period off, DOMS is real. It sucks… a lot! Even getting out of bed the next day can be a real pain, but all this it can be relieved if you take the right steps to caring after your muscles.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS for short) refers to the skeletal muscle pain that follows eccentric muscle training, so when the muscle is actively shortened. DOMS is classified as having stiff, tender and aching muscles wherever the eccentric contractions took place. The intensity can increase within the first 24 hours, but it actually peaks at its 24-48-hour mark, that’s why some people feel it more on the second/third day.
Here are 3 tips to help your muscles combat the nasty effects of DOMS!
Massage is one of the best ways to help get you moving again! We have little cells called neutrophils in our blood that help sense infection and help kill infections anywhere in our body. These little guys circulate within our muscles and after a big training session, these guys are already searching for any damage done to the muscle. If you have just completed a really big, heavy session or even just started to work out after an injury, its more than likely these guys pile up on each other to help the microtears battle any infections that are coming.
In a study done by Hilbert, Sforzo and Swensen in 2002 they mentioned that this could be one be one of the reasons DOMS occurs although there are so many more reasons that cause it also! Usually Swedish or deep tissue work is not to be done until approximately 2 hours after training to allow the body and the nervous system to settle down. After 2 hours is optimal time to get a massage to help flush out all the nasties and help prevent DOMS from not getting you out of bed the next day! Even a simple lymph drainage can help just as much as a deep tissue massage, it doesn’t always have to be an elbow deep massage to help prevent the effects of DOMS becoming worse over the next few days.
95% of 1220 participants showed that post exercise stretching reduced their soreness to almost 90% (Herbert, Noronha and Kamperher, 2011) that is a very big reduction! I see many people lifting heavy weights at the gym and not cooling down or stretching afterwards. It’s so important to stretch the muscle that was worked, so if you trained your quadriceps… you stretch your quadriceps. Noting that yes, there are some of the deeper muscles that you can’t specific stretch on your own but targeting the major muscle groups will help the muscle recover a lot faster than just going home and sitting down! Even going for a simple, light intensity walk around your local neighbourhood can help stretch out the muscles, even calm down some stress you might be experiencing too!
3. Stay hydrated
Did you know there’s approximately 79% water in our muscles, that’s so much water needed to help our muscles function to their full capacity. Mild dehydration can make your muscles more prone to longer periods of DOMS and can also contribute to cramps. Sweating during your workout makes you lose water in your body, so you need to replace that! It’s so important to keep a water bottle handy when working out to take small sips during the workout to help prevent dehydration.
Taking into consideration these 3 tips can help you withstand the effects of DOMS from training. We are not necessarily trying to prevent DOMS, because our muscles actually need this after-effect to grow stronger! We just want to make your muscles still love you and get you out of bed the next morning.