3 Myths About Post- Exercise Muscle Soreness
Posted on 22nd March 2016 at 09:30
Debunking the top 3 myths of muscle soreness and telling you how you can overcome this 3 day ‘workout hangover’.
Do you remember the first time that you exercised with real intensity?
That amazing sense of achievement as you pushed yourself harder than ever before.
That amazing sense of success from the hour spent showing your body who’s boss, and convinced that you would soon have the physique you crave.
Then the next morning, and for the 3 days after, your body reminded you that it’s still in charge and you still have a long way to go
Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness, better known as DOMS, is something that everyone who has exercised hard will have experienced, but not all will have known what really caused by. As the name suggests, DOMS is muscle soreness that develops around 6 hours after you finish training and can peak anywhere from 24-48 hours after you have finished. It is most noticeable when you introduce a new training stimulus, such as;
a new exercise,
an exercise variation,
an increase in weight lifted,
training intensity or
total volume of the workout.
It is also very noticeable when you first start physical activity in general. This is because DOMS is your body’s way of making adaptations to better prepare your muscles to do that activity again.
Here are the top 3 myths surrounding DOMS that will change your view on how hard you have worked in the gym.
Myth #1 – Lactic acid build up in your muscles causes DOMS
Since the early 20th century, DOMS was attributed to lactic acid build-up in the muscles during strenuous workouts, a time when your body’s oxygen supply is depleted. However, recent research has shown this not to be the case and has even shown that lactic acid is actually used by your muscles for fuel when oxygen supplies are depleted. Think about it and it makes a lot of sense as lactic acid build up in the muscle only lasts for 1-2 hours after your workout is complete, but DOMS doesn’t set in until at least 5-6 hours after exercise.
So if it’s not lactic acid build up that causes DOMS what is it? DOMS is now believe to be caused by micro-tears (micro=small) in the muscle cells that occurs from the muscle doing an activity that it isn’t used to doing (as mentioned earlier). These tiny micro-tears, coupled with the inflammation that accompanied these tears, is what causes the ‘pain’/soreness in the muscles.
Myth #2 – If you aren’t sore you didn’t work hard enough
People often use DOMS as a gauge of how hard they have worked, and if their muscles aren’t sore after a hard gym session, then they instantly assume that they haven’t worked hard enough. Using muscle soreness itself is a poor indicator of how hard you have worked in the gym as there are many factors that influence how DOMS presents itself in individuals.
Some people are able to adapt and grow when presented with a new stress much quicker than others. There is such variability between people, even with similar genetics, that using soreness and DOMS to gauge if you are in better shape than someone else, or who had the ‘tougher’ workout, is an extremely flawed method.
As you become more experienced at responding to the new stimulus, your muscles will adapt better to the stress and learn to distribute the workload across your muscle fibres more effectively, leading to less DOMS
Myth #3: Damaging the muscle is a bad thing.
While the word damage is often surrounded with negative connotations, when it comes to muscle fibres it’s actually extremely important. A certain degree of damage is needed within the muscle to help it adapt, so that when the muscle repairs itself it will grow bigger and stronger than before. While these mechanisms are not completely understood, we do know that muscle damage is needed to stimulate protein production and muscle growth.
Your body is always trying to protect you, as it doesn’t want you to get hurt. So after you have weakened and damaged the muscle the body will rebuild it stronger than before to help protect you and prevent further damage next time it’s presented with the same stimulus. This is why after a while you need to add new stimulus to your workout and push yourself from workout to workout, because eventually your body will stop needing to repair the muscle.
Notice how I said add new stimulus not create a new workout. Studies have shown you can stay on the same workout for up to 6 months and your body will still be adapting if you are constantly changing the stimulus. The reason why exercise programs get changed so regularly is more for client’s psychological wellbeing and to prevent the onset of boredom.
So how can we help reduce the symptoms of DOMS, which include not being able to walk up the stairs, walking like John Wayne and not being able to sit on the toilet?
Get a sports massage – this will help move fluid and blood around the body helping you heal the micro-tears in your muscles.
Epsom Salt Baths – The magnesium in the Epsom Salt gets absorbed through the skin helping relax muscles. Magnesium also helps absorption of vitamins into the body and helps regulate muscle and nerve function.
Increased Protein intake- to aid muscle repair
Omega 3 & Curcumin – to reduce inflammation
Sleep – the body repairs most when you are asleep
And there you have it. How many of you have a funny story about your experiences with DOMS?
Why not share it on the Facebook page, and see other peoples story’s, including my own!
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