Experiencing post-exercise soreness? Let me tell you why. First, let’s understand the basics:
When you exercise, your muscle fibers may undergo a micro-level damage that may cause inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s response to an injury/infection. Redness, pain, and loss of function are few signs of inflammation. This process makes way for aching muscles, which is known as muscle soreness.
It may start immediately after you exercise, but the muscle pain usually peaks in a day or two. That is why it is also known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness/DOMS.
Due to muscle soreness, you may not be able to move your muscle as usual. The severity of pain may also differ from person to person.
When does DOMS occur?
Any unusual muscle stretch such as running downwards, squats, push-ups, new exercise routine, exercising more than usual, and aggressive exercise can cause soreness.
Is DOMS same as muscle sprain?
No, DOMS is different than a muscle strain or sprain. Muscle strain or sprains are sudden injuries which happen during work-outs/exercises. They peak at the onset itself, unlike DOMS which peaks after a day or two of your activity.
Is it true that only newbies get muscle soreness?
No, even an experienced athlete is equally prone to muscle soreness. It's just that an experienced athlete’s stamina and endurance will be higher than that of newcomers! If you are a neophyte, who has jumped onto a rigorous routine, all of a sudden, you are more likely to go sore. An experienced athlete may not go sore like that of a neophyte, but anybody can invite DOMS when they try to improve their activity levels.
What does DOMS indicate?
Does it mean that your muscles are damaged? No, muscle soreness results from a micro level damage to your muscle fibers, DOMS is a process of building strength. Muscle soreness heals to increase your stamina and endurance. You come out stronger.
How long does it stay?
It stays for few days, typically three to five days.
What should you do when it happens?
- Maintain your activity levels, though they can’t be optimal. You may not feel like continuing with your routine, but it’s better if you do. Research says consistent, moderate activity levels aid recovery and make your muscles stronger.
- Of course, you can’t set records when you are sore, but it guarantees the improvement of your muscles. You may not experience this soreness for few weeks to months for this level of activity. When you experience soreness, it will be less intense and will go away faster.
- The soreness will disappear gradually. If your muscles are too sore wherein you can't exercise, don't force it, take a few days off.
- You may want to change your focus to toning some other muscles that are not sore during this period.
- Few gentle exercises such as walking/swimming apply gentle pressure on your aching muscles. This also helps you recover.
- Few techniques like massaging, applying heat/warm shower, cold/ice packs, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications can help you recover.
Does it happen after each session?
No, it happens only when you overdo it in terms of intensity/duration or both. Once you develop muscle soreness, you get immune to it for a few weeks to months. The next soreness you get will be for higher level of activity!
How can you avoid sore muscles?
This is one of the best ways to prevent DOMS. When you go gradual, your body and your muscles get used to the new change.
Few warm up exercises may also help you prevent DOMS. They also tone your muscles and help you perform better.
Stretching before and after exercises is very beneficial.
Add on 5 to 10 minutes of gentle exercises such as walking to your work-out schedule.
Follow it up with stretching.
It breaks the cycle: soreness to spasm to contraction to stiffness.
Refresh after your work-out with our spray water bottle.
Have a healthy diet
A diet rich in proteins and minerals builds muscle mass and makes you strong. Help yourself with our electric protein shaker.
When should you see your doctor?
Generally, the muscle soreness is localized/limited to few muscles. However, sometimes severe muscle soreness may indicate an emergency.
Meet your doctor if you have muscle pain accompanied with
- Neck stiffness and high fever
- Severe muscle weakness
- Trouble breathing