I’m pretty sure most of you will have experienced that pain a day or two after a workout, especially when starting a new routine or programme, where you struggle to get up and down the stairs and end up walking like John Wayne.
It’s one of those pains that lets you know you’ve worked hard and I must admit I do enjoy it!!
These pains are called DOMS, which stands for Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness and normally start to hit you 12-48 hours after exercise. Delayed onset muscle soreness is thought to be a result of microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers. The amount of tearing (and soreness) depends on how hard and how long you exercise and what type of exercise you do. Any movement you’re not used to can lead to DOMS, but eccentric muscle contractions (movements that cause muscle to lengthen) seem to cause the most soreness. Examples of eccentric muscle contractions include going down stairs, running downhill, lowering weights and the downward motion of squats and push-ups. In addition to small muscle tears there can also be associated swelling in a muscle which may lead to soreness.
There is no simple way to treat DOMS, in fact, there has been an ongoing debate about both the cause and treatment of it for years.
The best technique I've found to reduce my own muscle soreness is to use a foam roller regularly as a part of my cool down. As mentioned in a previous article, foam rolling or self-massage smooth’s and lengthens your muscles, and breaks up adhesions and scar tissue. Another benefit is that it helps your muscles relax by activating the sensory receptors connecting your muscle fibers to your tendons. The overall effect is better blood circulation, which in turn speeds workout recovery and boosts performance.
Whilst sore, don't expect to set personal records. Most likely, during a bout of DOMS, your exercise may slow down alittle but don’t beat yourself up about it. DOMS usually affects only the body parts that were worked, so you can always work other muscle groups while letting the fatigued ones recover.