I think it’s appropriate to talk about this common exercise problem, as I know many Lazy Runners suffered from this condition during the week!! DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.
DOMS occurs 24 hours after exercise but tends to increase on severity up until 48 hours and can still be felt up to 72 hours after the abnormal exercise!!
It is a bit of a mystery and there are many explanations for it. However, it can be very frustrating as the pain and lack of ability to carry out normal function for most of the week. It occurs to the best and fittest of us, any time we tend to exercise differently or different muscle groups.
It is thought to be brought about my microscopic tearing of muscle fibres, and the tearing and soreness depends on the amount and duration of the new exercise… as in maybe 100 squats or frog leaps!
However, be aware that an important theory that was once touted as the blame for all muscle soreness, Lactic acid, is not longer believed to be true. Any lactic acid that is built up in the muscle when exercising leaves the muscle within 30-60 mins after the exercise is finished. In fact Lactic acid is now looked on as an important and integral part of the bodies energy stores.
For some strange reason its only one type of movement that brings on DOMS, the eccentric muscle contraction. This is the movement in the muscle when it is forced to contract and lengthen at the same time. Examples of this contraction are going down stairs, running downhill and the down movement of the squat, so there you have it, just come up from squats don’t go down!!!! I find this all so fascinating
The feeling of pain can be put down to the rush of fluids that enter the muscle, as a protective thing, however the pain then causes swelling and inflammation and therefore everything feels so tight and painful and week, for several days.
Ok Ok , I hear you, ‘We don’t care what caused it , just how do we get bloody rid of it??’
Gently stretching of course is always touted as helpful, but recent research puts stretching in doubt when it come to helping you recover from tough exercise.
Some other tips are:
Active Recovery…you hear me talk about this a lot, it means not resting but doing gentle exercise, so light jogging or walking the day after can help
Gentle massage- do not opt for remedial or sports massage or you will end up on the ceiling of the treatment room, just light, long strokes that release the toxins in the muscles, no digging in!
Ice…or ice baths, or a swim in the ocean- sore muscles usually mean inflammation in the muscle so cooling down always seems to soothe
Anti inflammatory can help, just the over the counter stuff like Voltaren, aspirin or ibuprofen
One important thing to remember is that it happens to the best of us. It doesn’t mean you are unfit and need to workout more. Top athletes suffer from DOMS, from marathon runners to body builders. It is just a sign that you have pushed your muscles to their limit, damaged them a little, but the ensuing recovery will see them build and grow stronger.
I think for runners though, it is an important lesson in how cross training can be very effective in combination with your running. The cross training will work the muscles that running doesn’t. So swimming will cater to your upper body strength, cycling to the front of your legs, yes those dreaded squats woke those muscles up this week.
How do you never suffer from DOMS again..you ask?
Well that is a tough call, because to improve your fitness or build strength, you tend to push yourself, especially if you are working in a group. The 10% rule is a good one. it means never increase your distances or weights size or repititions by more than 10% a week. This gives the body and muscle groups a chance to adapt gradually to the new, intensity.
I say bring on Lazy Gym next week..then we will all really know the true meaning of DOMS!