Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS):
That woeful soreness that can set in 24-48 hours after an intense workout or from unfamiliar activity. For the novice participant, when it comes to working out, DOMS can be perceived as an injury or muscle strain. According to Physioworks, "DOMS is caused by myofibril tears (muscle strains). The microtrauma results in an inflammatory response with intramuscular fluid and electrolyte shifts." DOMS can be tough to push through if you're just starting or restarting some sort of workout routine. Don't give up, keep your body moving- you will adapt.
When it comes to DOMS there's zero proven way of treating it. Not only does science struggle to explain what causes DOMS but how to treat it as well. I recently heard that DOMS is the tax of the exercise world. There's no way around it and we all have to pay it at some point. There are definitely methods in an attempt to reduce the effects of DOMS- many not so effective. Keep reading!
1. Lactic acid is not the culprit to your soreness. Let this myth die- it's not true. Lactic Acid simple helps break down glucose during the workout to help if oxygen isn't getting the job done on its own.
2. You didn't have a good workout unless you're sore. Even more so than the lactic acid idea- LET THIS GO! Soreness is not an indicator of an effective workout, not even sweating is. Sometimes you wont ever be sore as your body adapts and gets stronger and more flexible. Soreness typically means you're changing things up or challenging the body differently. Don't think you didn't work hard if you're not sore.
3. DOMS does not equal injury. Yes DOMS is muscles tearing and then having to be repaired but don't equate this with an injury. To build and repair muscle there has to be some level of muscle fibers being damaged. That allows the muscle to be stronger and longer, allowing the muscle to avoid injury down the road.
The many ineffective treatments:
A review on DOMS in 2003 concluded, "Cryotherapy, stretching, homeopathy, ultrasound and electrical current modalities have demonstrated no effect on the
alleviation of muscle soreness or other DOMS symptoms.”
A list of popular but ineffective treatment: Glutamine and arginine supplements, static stretching, epsom salts, compression garments, icing (maybe the dumbest one).
Some treatments that can be more 'promising': Massage, vibration, fish oils, heat treatment, myofascial release, vitamin D.
At the end of the day the best relief from DOMS is to simply keep moving. Stopping and allowing your body to tighten up even more is not your best bet. Active recovery is the move. Take a walk or add some dynamic stretching to your sore days. Movement is medicine in more ways than one! Don't under estimate it's value!