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DOMS

March 18, 2010


You’ve just started your workout program and you are excited!  You hit the gym, or wherever you go to exercise, with purpose, a plan, and enthusiasm.Man Exercising Arm Muscles 4 Your workout is AWESOME, and you go home, get some post-exercise nutrition in, clean up, and relax for the evening.

The next day you are mildly sore, but nothing too bad.  Two mornings later however, you get out of bed, but instead of walking, you either fall out of bed, or you hobble to the restroom.Yawning It is then that you realize that you are so sore you can barely move.

Why do we get sore when either starting a workout program, resuming one after a layoff, or exercising more intensely than we’re used to?  There are several possible reasons.  Among them are:

* small tears in muscle tissue or damage to the muscles’ contractile components

* fluid retention in surrounding tissues

* muscle spasms

* overstretching and tearing of portions of the muscle’s connective tissue harness

* inflammation

* alteration in the muscle cell’s mechanism for calcium regulation

* some combination of the above

The soreness that we experience a day or two after a good workout is referred to as “delayed-onset muscle soreness”, or DOMS for short, and it can last for 3 or 4 days, or even more in extreme cases.  This type of soreness is caused more by the eccentric, or “negative” phase of an exercise than by the concentric or “positive” portions.  So, if you emphasize negatives when lifting weights, be aware that you will enhance your chances for possible extreme soreness.

For people just beginning an exercise program, or starting back after a layoff, start with a moderate intensity workout a few days prior to going all out.  Such a “preparatory” workout may help the body to become more resistant to soreness in subsequent workouts.

But, realize that muscle soreness can be expected when working out intensely with exercises that include a negative (eccentric) component.  The normal process is that our muscles become sore after an intense workout, inflammation results, the muscle cells heal and adapt to make the muscles more resistant to damage from subsequent exercise.

So, while you might reduce soreness, you probably won’t eliminate it if you workout hard.  Just expect soreness as part of the exercise process.

Darryl

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2 Responses to “DOMS”


  1. Hi Darryl,

    Thank you for this clear definition of THAT post work out pain. ROFL. Um, yes. I thought I had been SO careful when I was working out at a hotel gym when I was in on a business trip in December. Because it was a different gym, I made do with what they had and did something a little different. Um, the next day I felt like a bow-legged cowboy wanting to waddle my walk. Too funny indeed.

    Now that I am over 28 years old and know my body more, when I incorporate a new element to my workout, I start LOW weight and only about 10-30 reps. And then I just about hold my breath for 2 days and observe the muscle used. Did it feel it? I should be a TOUCH sore…. Just not pathetically so. If there was nearly no impact, then I take the weight up a notch. etc. until I feel it and am able to do it for a good quantity of reps.

    Do you recommend varying your intensity as well reps, sort of like the zig zag dieting motif you’ve mentioned in the past?

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell

    http://www.aprilbraswell.com

  2. I remember from my days of mountain bike racing. Every winter when the bike would get put away, I’d do intense leg work with a body builder friend of mine. He would bring a bucket to puke in and I would be a little sore the next day and paralyzed two days after that but man did my legs get bigger and stronger!

    Anthony
    http://www.anthonylemme.com

 

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