I’ll let you into a little secret: I’m struggling with walking, struggling with stairs and generally struggling with sitting down today.

That pain you feel when you’ve done a hard workout, sometimes the next day, sometimes the day after that.  You know when people use the phrase “no pain, no gain”, what exactly do they mean?

Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the technical name for that pain – basically the soreness you feel in your muscles 24-72 hours after a workout (although it can occur anything up to 9 days after).

Historically, people thought the pain was a build up of lactic acid, but it is actually caused by little micro-tears in the muscles fibers, with greater importance on the eccentric phase of a contraction (the lengthening or stretching element).

There has always been a school of thought that this muscles damage can actually help to make the muscles stronger, and encourage hypertrophy (muscle growth). Whilst this is true on a small scale, if the muscle damage is overly severe, then the soreness is counterproductive and can negate any progress that might have been experienced.

The soreness that I’m feeling today is slightly too much, although I hadn’t planned on exercising again until tomorrow, so the impact on my exercise regime is minimal. I was able to still go for a run last night as planned, but I think any leg work might have been shelved.  This is where the counterproductive element comes in – if you’re able to carry on as normal, then there’s no harm, but maybe think about amending the next session to prevent it happening on the same scale next time.

If you start a new exercise regime, or add in different exercises to your existing one, you’d expect to feel DOMS to begin with. You just have to be careful that the DOMS isn’t too severe, and that it doesn’t impact on anything else you’re trying to do.

Looking at the circuit I did Sunday morning, I know exactly the combination of exercises that has caused the pain I’m experiencing.  I also know that I won’t be doing that combination of exercise together in a while – individually, they’re manageable; together, they’re the devil incarnate.

If you’re experiencing DOMS make sure you drink plenty, get a good nights sleep, use a foam roller to help flush out any waste products that have built up and keep moving – sitting in my chair, I’m almost normal; getting up renders me useless, and I make all sorts of ridiculous sounds!

Oh well, it should be over soon for another week…… and then the fun starts again 🙂

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