Ever have a great workout only to feel like death 2 days later? If you’re an avid exerciser, you may be all too familiar with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). This muscle soreness is insidious, as it doesn’t rear its ugly head until 24-48 hours POST workout. So for newbies to this sensation, they may feel like the grim reaper is waiting nearby. No worries though, it does abate and it’s also a good indicator that maybe you’re working too hard or not often enough.
HERE ARE 6 TIPS FOR PREVENTION:
1. Warm Up a minimum of 10 minutes. “Practice” the movements, like body weight squats before you hit the Squat rack, or high knees and bum kicks before sprints.
2. Listen to Your Body – “no pain no gain” is an antiquated adage that should NOT be followed. There is a difference between intense work that causes muscle burn or fatigue (that’s good) vs sharp, acute pain (which indicates muscle strain or tears, aka injury).
3. Type of Workout- exercise at YOUR ability. Work at intensities that are challenging but not harmful to you. Eccentric exercises (working the muscles in an elongated rather than shortened state) are common causes of DOMS so do these occasionally.
4. Appropriate Workout Progressions for your ability – everyone is unique so if you don’t usually lift weights, don’t start with 20-pound dumbbells. If you’re not a runner, don’t start off with sprints or a 10 miler. In fact, just about ANY exercise can cause DOMS in sedentary people so regular exercise is preventative.
5. Rein in Your Exuberance. I’ve been there many times, you feel great so you go all out, going harder, heavier and/or longer and two days later you’re out of commission.
6. Cool down and STRETCH.
When DOMS hits, take NSAIDS like ibuprofen to decrease the inflammation (this is NOT caused by Lactic acid buildup – that’s the fatigue and muscle “Burn” causing acid that accumulates during intense workouts and is quickly cleared from the muscles). DOMS is caused by moderate to severe muscle strain and tearing which leads to free radical buildup and sets off inflammatory responses in the muscles.
MOVE – the instinct is to stay bedridden but this actually worsens the symptoms. Some theories suggest that fluids lubricating the muscles and connective tissues around them get thicker and “sticky” with lack of movement causing the “stiff” feeling in muscles, but with gentle movement, the fluid becomes less viscous and allowing the muscle fibers’ movements against the fascia and other muscles enhancing smoother, easier movement.
So the next time the sight of stairs makes your thighs quiver like jello and it takes every effort not to fall down (or up) them; when you have to bend over to brush your teeth because your arms feel like leaden pipes (and forget about combing the back of your hair!); and lets not even talk about using the toilet – hovering over a public bowl is no longer a viable option leaving only the choices of developing a UTI or risking the outcome of collapsing onto said porcelain seat because your legs and bum have betrayed you – no longer can you count on them – have hope; take some ibuprofen, get out of bed and go for a walk and stretch and maybe re-evaluate your workout regime.
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