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Are You STILL Feeling The Burn Days After Your Workout? Meet DOMS.

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Are You STILL Feeling The Burn Days After Your Workout? Meet DOMS.

 

Have you ever felt extremely sore one or two days after a workout? Don’t panic, you’re not alone — it’s completely normal, regardless of fitness level. Meet DOMS, AKA Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

DOMS is the tangible result of high-intensity exercise caused by tiny, microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. It’s commonly characterized by stiff, achy muscles 24-48 hours post-exercise. While DOMS can result from all types of exercise and movements, eccentric contractions — a lengthening of the muscle, such as the lowering motion in a biceps curl — are known to produce the most soreness. The severity and length of DOMS goes down by repeatedly engaging in the same exercise, which is why soreness tends to decrease for well-trained, experienced individuals.

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Eccentric contractions tend to cause DOMS.

 

 

Prevention and Soreness Reduction


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DOMS Prevention and Reduction

Although many swear by a pre-workout warm-up and/or stretching to prevent DOMS, according to the American College of Sports Medicine and various research studies there is no direct link between a pre-workout warm-up and the prevention of DOMS. The same non-linkage holds true for stretching. Stretching, however, should be performed after a warm-up and/or the workout itself as a means of injury-prevention and a way to increase flexibility.123

As stated earlier, engaging in the same movements that caused the soreness are one of the ways to help prevent it from reoccurring. This is also known as the repeated-bout effect. Additionally, gradually increasing the intensity of the exercise will help the soreness be more manageable. To avoid soreness as much as possible, professionals say to engage primarily in isometric and concentric movements. Isometric movements involve a contraction without a change in muscle length (e.g. plank, wall sits); concentric movements involve the muscle shortening (e.g. lifting motion of a bicep curl, upwards portion of a pull-up).

Supplementation with Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) can also help. BCAAs have been proven to significantly reduce muscular soreness and accelerate the growth and recovery process. For that reason, BCAA’s are included within a number of pre-workout and intra-workout blends, and are typically used by athletes, bodybuilders, and experts to enable greater workout frequency, which leads to accelerated growth.

With that said, they’re perfectly suitable and recommended for the every day lifter, runner, etc. For more on BCAAs and their benefits, read our primer here.45678

Other tactics to help reduce soreness and/or temporarily reduce the pain associated include:

  • Foam Rolling
  • Gentle Massage
  • Yoga9
  • Ice Spot Treatment/Ice Bath
  • NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) — Advil, ibuprofen, etc. can help temporarily reduce muscle soreness.
  • Topical Menthol-Based Analgesics (Icy-Hot, Ben-Gay).10
  • Whole Body Vibration (Soloflex) — New research suggests that WBV can help reduce the severity of DOMS.11

 

Does DOMS = Success?


The belief that muscle soreness is directly linked to workout intensity — and ultimately results — is pure myth. Your body will grow, improve, and change regardless of whether or not DOMS occurs.

Again, soreness DOES NOT indicate progress, or a lack there of.

All levels of soreness can vary based on body type, fitness level and execution of exercise. That said, if you feel soreness or sudden pain during a workout, it is best to stop — soreness during a workout is not DOMS and is most likely a sign of acute damage. When you experience this kind of pain it can lead to further injury, so it is best to be cautious and stop before the condition gets worse.



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References, Notes, Links

  1. http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/delayed-onset-muscle-soreness-(doms).pdf []
  2. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Herbert RD, de Noronha M, Kamper SJ. Cochrane. Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jul 6;(7):CD004577 []
  3. The effects of preexercise stretching on muscular soreness, tenderness and force loss following heavy eccentric exercise. Johansson PH, Lindström L, Sundelin G, Lindström B. Scand. J Med Sci Sports. 1999 Aug;9(4):219-25. []
  4. Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. Howatson G, Hoad M, Goodall S, Tallent J, Bell PG, French DN. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 May 8;9(1):20. []
  5. Nutraceutical effects of branched-chain amino acids on skeletal muscle. Shimomura Y, Yamamoto Y, Bajotto G, Sato J, Murakami T, Shimomura N, Kobayashi H, Mawatari K. J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):529S-532S. SV92GWA3PQNX []
  6. Branched-chain amino acid ingestion can ameliorate soreness from eccentric exercise Jackman SR, Witard OC, Jeukendrup AE, Tipton KD. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 May;42(5):962-70 []
  7. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation before squat exercise and delayed-onset muscle soreness Shimomura Y, Inaguma A, Watanabe S, Yamamoto Y, Muramatsu Y, Bajotto G, Sato J, Shimomura N, Kobayashi H, Mawatari K. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2010 Jun;20(3):236-44 []
  8. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation attenuates muscle soreness, muscle damage and inflammation during an intensive training program. Matsumoto K, Koba T, Hamada K, Sakurai M, Higuchi T, Miyata H. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2009 Dec;49(4):424-31 []
  9. The effects of yoga training and a single bout of yoga on delayed onset muscle soreness in the lower extremity. Boyle CA, Sayers SP, Jensen BE, Headley SA, Manos TM. J Strength Cond Res. 2004 Nov;18(4):723-9. []
  10. A comparison of topical menthol to ice on pain, evoked tetanic and voluntary force during delayed onset musclesoreness. Johar P, Grover V, Topp R, Behm DG. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Jun;7(3):314-22. []
  11. Effect of Whole Body Vibration on Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness, Flexibility, and Power. Wheeler AA, Jacobson BH. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Dec 17. []