Oh that hurt so good feeling a day or two after a workout that lets you know that you got a good one in. Have you ever felt this after a tough or intense workout? This is known as Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is caused by damage of the tissue from the eccentric (Where the muscle is lengthened) load of a movement that your body isn’t used to in regular activities or in training.
I like to use it as a sign of how well your body is adapting with a current program, especially in beginners. It allows me to understand if we need to adjust the program and how we adjust. This isn’t about the “no pain no gain” mentality. It is about adjusting your program with progressive overload to allow your body to adapt and change while helping you reach your goals. You can use DOMS as a tool and understand that when you damage the muscles and have soreness, you’ve changed something in your routine, you’ve challenged the muscles and increased the intensity in a way that has put stress on those working muscles.
In order to grow, and get stronger, you have to allow your body to adapt to the change before adding another factor to the routine. This will allow you to safely progress, help prevent injuries, and also a way to help minimize your DOMS affect. You don’t need soreness to build strength and see progress, but it can happen when there is a change in the routine that your body has to adjust to.
So when you are feeling DOMS after a workout, how do you cope with it?
Here are some ways to help manage your muscle soreness:
1. A thorough warm up
Warming up properly before a routine can help prep your body for the impact and/or load it is about to receive. A warm up of 10-20minutes can help get your muscles ready. An example of the warm up order may look like this:
2. A thorough cool down
At the end of a routine once the muscles have been worked, It’s important to bring your heart rate back down to resting and to stretch the muscles that have just been worked. Taking 10-20minutes to cool down can have your body feeling good after a routine, and will greatly benefit you. Here is an example of what a cool down may look like:
3. Move your body the next day
The movement should be different from what made you sore. It doesn’t need to be high intensity, it can be light movements, but it’s important to move. Moving your muscles that have been worked the day before can help loosen them up.
4. Eat food!
Part of your recovery after a workout is to refuel and replenish your nutrition and calorie intake.
In order for your muscles to rebuild and grow after a routine you need the right nourishment to help the process along. You need to replenish your carbs for energy, you need to eat your fats so your body can transport vitamins and nutrients to the muscles needed, and you need protein because they are the building blocks for muscles. Other nutrients like vitamins play different roles in the recovery process as well. So remember to eat a variety of different foods to nourish your body properly.
5. Hydrate well
After training, you may lose water from sweating. It’s important to replenish that water, and keep yourself hydrated because your muscles need water to help repair and grow. Water helps to transport nutrients to the muscles and remove toxins and waste from the body.
6. Adequate sleep
Allow yourself to sleep. Especially after an intense training day, a long run, or a heavy lifting day. Your body takes this time to repair, rebuild, and grow the muscles.