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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to Treat and Prevent Muscle Soreness

Muscle soreness, technically known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), is very common in people that exercise.  To some beginners it can be a scary and very uncomfortable feeling.  To some long term exercisers it can instill a sense of accomplishment after a hard workout.  Everybody has experienced DOMS at some point in their lives.  Whether it was caused from a session at the gym or shoveling snow in the winter.

What Causes DOMS?
When we place our muscles under stress, by moving a load or performing a dynamic movement, our muscle fibers will microscopically tear.  This tearing causes slight inflammation around the torn muscle fibers which causes you to feel tightness and soreness.

How To Prevent DOMS
The most important thing you can do to limit DOMS is to perform a proper warm up every time you work out.  A proper warm up is not elliptical or stationary bike riding for 10 minutes!  A proper warm up involves some air squats, hip and shoulder mobility work, a few repetitions of the movements you are working on that day and maybe some work on the movements you struggle with.

A proper warm up will definitely help limit DOMS, but it is not a cure.  You are still going to experience DOMS after an intense workout.

How To "Treat" DOMS
A better way to put this is "How To Speed Up Recovery".  The most important think to speed up recovery is proper nutrition.  EAT MEAT!  And eat a variety of meats.  There are 10 essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) our body needs in order for our muscles to recover.  Not all proteins contain all the essential amino acids so it is important to consume a variety of proteins to cover your amino acid bases.  Most plant proteins lack some of the essential amino acids which is why it is important to consume animal proteins.

Active recovery is a great way to reduce DOMS and speed up recovery.  Activity will increase blood flow and dynamically stretch the affected muscles.  This will decrease inflammation which will reduce DOMS and speed up the healing process.

Other than proper nutrition and active recovery, soft tissue work can be an effective way to speed up recovery.  Soft tissue work can involve foam rolling or massage.  Soft tissue work basically helps reduce inflammation which can speed up healing.

The Most Important Thing About DOMS
If you work out you will get sore!  If you don't, then you aren't really working out.  You are just reading a magazine on the elliptical.

There is good news.  The more you work out, the less soreness you will feel.  I always tell people that the first week of training is always the worst.  You will be sore in places you didn't know existed.  Your ass (Gluteus Maximus) will hurt so bad it will be hard to sit on the toilet.  But after that first week you will see great fitness results and feel like a million bucks!


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