Have you ever felt sore after starting a new fitness regime or working out after a long break or even after pushing yourself harder than usual during a workout session?
Fret not, chances are that your workout may have caused what is knows as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS.
DOMS typically lasts anywhere between 3 and 5 days. The pain, which can range from mild to severe, usually occurs 1 or 2 days after the exercise.
Here's how you know you have it,
Not being able to lift your hand or walk down the stairs without severe pain
Decreased range of motion while exercising the next time
Temporary loss in muscle strength
Sore muscles might feel bruised upon light pressure
Muscle soreness can develop upto 2 days after an intense activity or workout and can affect anyone regardless of their fitness levels.
Why does it happen after all?
When you exercise, your muscles go through eccentric movements; which is when the muscles lengthen during the contraction; think of a simple movement on the way up while performing a push up.
Even other forms of intense activities like running, sprinting and/ or,
performing exercises at a higher intensity than what your body is usually used to
Working your muscles in a different way
Increasing the weights during strength training
can sometimes cause DOMS.
This pain indicates that your muscles are adopting to the workouts and training regime as instructed by your trainer/ gym and your muscles are getting stronger with every passing day provided you supplement your workouts with a good diet. There is no cause to worry.
However, it is also important to mention here that not all pains are good,
DOMS, as explained above
Acute muscle soreness. This happens while exercising and usually goes away within an hour or so after your workout.
Injury, in such a case the discomfort or pain will be more predominant to a specific part or muscle and might last longer than expected. One should consult a doctor in such a case.
Is it safe to workout with DOMS?
You can continue to exercise with DOMS, however it might feel a little uncomfortable to begin with until your muscles are warmed up. The soreness is most likely to return again once your muscles have cooled down after exercising.
Usually it's recommended to rest the affected muscles until the soreness goes away, if you find it hard to workout. You can instead work on less affected muscle areas (like upper body) during such a day following an intense workout (lower body) session which might have caused DOMS in your thigh muscles.
How can I recover from/ prevent DOMS?
There is no easy answer to this. Nothing has been scientifically proven to be completely effective against DOMS. However these few things listed below can help you in recovering from an episode of DOMS much faster,
Rest: This is an essential component of your recovery and one should focus on getting at-least 8-9 hours of sleep
Healthy Diet: A good combination of protein and carbs can help speed up the recovery process.
Active Recovery: Make sure you stay active throughout the day by engaging in low intensity activities like walking, jogging, cycling, gentle stretching or light mobility routine to increase blood flow which will aid in supplying the essential nutrients and oxygen to the affected muscles.
Hydration: Dehydration is responsible for muscle soreness. So make sure that you not only hydrate after a workout session but throughout the day
Massage: Massage has been shown to help decrease the compound in our muscles that causes inflammation by improving the blood flow circulation
Will I keep getting DOMS?
Think of DOMS as a way of muscle conditioning, which means that your muscles are adapting to a new activity.
So, the next time you perform the same workout or exercise at the same intensity, there'll be lesser muscle tissue damage, lesser soreness, and a faster recovery.
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