Sore No More


Have you ever felt like you were hit by a bus a couple of days after a tough workout?  If so, you’ve had a case of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and you’re not alone. DOMS is a condition that’s affected scores of exercisers.  Did you know that debilitating soreness doesn’t have to accompany progress?  In fact, it may hinder progress!  You can get stronger, leaner and healthier without having to walk like Frankenstein’s monster for two days after every workout.  

DOMS is associated with heavy or repetitive eccentric muscle action, which is when muscles resist a weight or decelerate.  If you’ve ever run downhill, you’ve probably had the unmistakable thigh soreness that follows.  It can also come from unfamiliar activity like a new workout.  DOMS usually shows up anywhere from 12-48 hours after exercise, depending on how crushing the workout was.  There’s lots of anecdotal evidence on methods to reduce or alleviate it, but no scientifically proven remedy.

This guy will looking for a vat of Ben Gay tomorrow...

Some people look at soreness as positive feedback, but that’s misguided.  DOMS can limit strength and range of motion, and the discomfort is more likely to make you avoid your next workout rather than embrace it.  In addition, full recovery may take up to 3 weeks!  Considering all that, the best case scenario is to avoid DOMS while making progress.  So, how does one do that?

First, make sure you perform a warm-up to increase muscle temperature before more vigorous exercise.  Starting each workout with movement prep that includes foam rolling, stretching, core activation and dynamic warm-up should cover you.  Second, avoid making big changes in your workout.  For example, if you’re  doing 3 sets of 10 reps of a given exercise, don’t suddenly jump to doing 10 sets of ten reps.  Introduce new exercises gradually by cutting back on sets and reps and building up over the course of a few workouts.  If you change the type of cardiovascular exercise you do, cut back on time and intensity in the first few workouts.

Do you have a remedy for DOMS that works for you?  Share it in a comment!

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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

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