There must have been workout sessions after which you’ve dreaded a flight of stairs. The worst part? It doesn’t go away fast enough! However, the pain you feel is completely normal and is usually the result of a workout session that’s harder than you’re used to.
It’s a characteristic muscle pain that shows up much after your workout is over – could be even a day or so!. And because this soreness is quite delayed – it has been aptly named – Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness or DOMS for short.
Why does the soreness occur?
You’ll experience the brunt of DOMS usually after a hard workout – something your muscles are not very used to. Pushing your muscles beyond what they’re capable of causes small tears, medically termed as microtrauma. Your muscles tear and when they heal – they grow in size/strength. So if you’re doing your workout right, you will experience DOMS.
The damage caused to the muscle fibers leads to inflammation. Lactic acid, free radicals, and ions within your body are the primary cause for this inflammation. In its defense, your body sensitizes the muscle tissues as well as the nerve endings around it – adding to the pain!
The impact of DOMS
DOMS can surely have a negative impact on performance and is one of the main reasons why beginners drop out of exercising. It directly compromises muscle movement and you’re left confined to limited activities. It hampers your ability to do daily chores. Simple, everyday activities including something as basic as walking can be a pain.
How to prevent DOMS
When you’re experiencing muscle soreness, the worst thing you can do is ignore it and perform extensive workouts anyway. This will not only hurt a lot but can also increase the risk of injury and not just to the muscles that are already hurting.
This is because the delayed onset muscle soreness makes you use your muscles in a different manner in order to avoid causing any strain to the sore muscles. For example, after doing deadlifts one day, you experience DOMS in your hamstrings two days later. If you decide to deadlift again after a day or two, you will subconsciously avoid stressing your hamstrings and bring your lower back into the scene. And we all know what happens when you stress your back during a deadlift!
Nevertheless, DOMS doesn’t give you a pass to be lazy and completely avoid exercising. It’s essential for you to perform low impact activities so that your muscles can relax. Exercises like foam rolling and stretching will help.
Like you warm up before an exercise to prepare your body for a physical activity, similarly, there’s a cooldown process which helps to bring down your body temperature and heart rate to normal after an intense workout. Including a cool down routine after your workout can really help reduce the muscle soreness later on.
After an intense workout, your body produces a lot of lactic acids. The primary reason behind DOMS. Stretching right after your workout helps release the lactic acid right there, reducing its effects later on! Foam rolling, full body stretching and a lot of deep breathing, post your workout should really help keep DOMS at bay!
Including yoga in your cooldown routine is also another effective way to prevent DOMS. Wondering how to incorporate Yoga into your routine without shelling out extra? Check out Fitato.
The pain that occurs during DOMS is due to the presence of a stimulus, making it unattainable to completely avoid the pain. There are some food items that can help to make the pain at least bearable.
According to studies, consuming caffeine before working out can help reduce the succeeding muscle soreness. Caffeine is known to have analgesic properties. So it is advisable to drink a cup of coffee or tea before your workout session. It can help you work out better and reduce the chances of soreness.
Berries are filled with antioxidants which protect our body cells. The antioxidants negate the free radicals that tend to form after exercising. Thus prevents inflammation that leads to muscle soreness. Berries help speed up your recovery and give you the energy to get through the day… well.
Consuming fish can also help you with your post-workout muscle soreness. Fish oils contain fatty acids which are known to provide relief from inflammation. Fish oil is popularly used to treat workout related muscle soreness, damage to the nerves caused by an injury and age-related muscle inflammation. Fish also contains high levels of Taurine, a type of amino acid which has been found to reduce muscle soreness.
Post workout soreness can be a real bummer and can slow your fitness journey down. A lot of beginners actually fall out of their routine due to DOMS. But you can work around DOMS, with a little bit of preparation and some motivation!
How have you dealt with muscle soreness after a grueling workout? Let us know in the comments below.