Many people believe that they did not have a good workout unless they experience pain and soreness the day after their workout. Hashtags on instagram such as #sorenotsorry promote this new but is this actually true? Or is it another one of those instagram trends that is frankly, a load of rubbish?
The soreness that you get the day or two days after exercise is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS for short) and it is caused by microtrauma (small tears) to the muscle. It either comes on the day after your workout or the second day and it doesn’t generally last more than two to three days although if you gone all out, it could last up to a week.
You are more likely to get DOMS if you are new or returning to exercise or if you are doing something that you do not usually do. If you are experienced then you may get DOMS when you increase the intensity of your workout.
In terms of whether you have had a good workout if you do not get DOMS then the answer is yes! While being a little sore (or ‘aware’ of the muscles that you worked) is perfectly normal, you should not be so sore that you are struggling to walk down stairs or put your coat on. This is a sign that you have pushed your body too far and if you do this continually then you are likely to overtrain, get injured or give up on exercise. In my opinion, severe DOMS is actually going to sabotage your fitness goals. When you are sore are you more likely to do more activity and continue to move the following day or lie on the sofa watching Netflix and eating junk? If you are training to lose weight specifically, then the whole aim of the game is to burn more calories than you are taking in. There is only so much that you can do in a designated ‘exercise session’ so what you really need to do is to incorporate more movement into your daily life. If you make yourself sore from a your workout then you will be sedentary for 1-2 days and the amount of calories that you are expending will reduced.
What can I do to Reduce DOMS?
So this advice has come to you too late and you already have DOMS, what can you do to speed up your recovery?
Firstly try to keep moving as much as you can. This is going to increase the blood flow to the muscles affected so they get increased nutrients and this will speed up the rate of your recover.
You can also try some gentle stretching. Your muscles are going to feel really tight so take it slowly and ease into any stretches – now isn’t the time to get any flexibility personal bests.
You should also make sure that you are eating plenty of protein. Your muscles have been damaged and they need to protein to grow and repair (did you know that your muscles and vital organs are actually protein?). By ensuring an adequate intake you should suffer a little bit less.
If you can stand it, then foam rolling or a massage may help. However, I personally find these painful (especially foam rolling) on the best of days so if you do go for a massage just make them aware that you are sore and ask them to use lighter pressure.
You could also try a warm bath, try putting some Epsom salts in as these are meant to help relax the muscles due to the magnesium content. I don’t think that this method is 100% proven but some people swear by it and it is unlikely to harm.
Do you have any tips and tricks for dealing with DOMS? I’d love to know what you think.