Have you felt aches or pains following a gym workout?
All of you regular gym goers will most likely already know it is normal to feel muscle soreness following a hard workout this is known as DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) which usually occurs 24-48 hours after the exercise.
It is caused by an increase in exercise intensity for example increasing; frequency, load, reps, time, distance, speed, new exercises or ones that haven’t been done in a while. Basically any increase in exercise that puts stress on your body’s muscles causing micro-trauma to the muscle fibres which is little tiny tears. This is what causes the pain and your body adapts to this higher demand by rebuilding the fibres stronger and thicker so they don’t tear the next time that load is placed upon them which is also how muscle mass is increased.
Unfortunately if you want to get stronger/fitter there is no treatment method that can guarantee no DOMS and personally I like to feel muscle soreness after a workout it makes me know that my workout has actually done something but not to the point where I can’t get up and down stairs then I know I have over done it.
There are some treatment methods that can help reduce DOMS such as; ensuring you do a good warm up and cool down.
A good warm up should consist of mobility exercises such as shoulder shrugs, arm circles, ankle and wrist movements etc, a pulse raiser eg 5 min jog and stretches. Now some research has found that pre static stretches decreases power so you may prefer to use dynamic stretches in the warmup and static stretches in the cool down. It is very important to stretch all muscle groups upper body and lower body this will also Lower the risk of injury.
The best method to decrease DOMS is to Increase exercise load gradually and make it a regular occurrence
Other treatment methods are sports massage, anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen, good nutrition new research has found that the best thing to have after a workout is a shake that is high in carbohydrate and protein to help rebuild the muscle fibres and this should be consumed within 40 mins post exercise, BCAA have also been cited in relation to helping DOMS.
There are lots of contradictory research on contrast bathing reducing DOMS this is ideally submerging the effected muscles in an ice bath for 3 mins alternating with 3 mins warm water for a total of 15 mins always starting and finishing in the ice bath. *SUPER TIP* Now your gym may not have these facilities but may have a cold shower and sauna that you could use instead. In studies that are against contrast bathing for decreasing DOMS some authors say that any positive outcomes are due to psychological effects. For me that’s good enough and it may work for you so I recommend you give it ago.
Also there are clothing items that you can wear that claims to reduce DOMS I have given some of these a go and I am not a fan however I know some people that swears by them. So again it’s all trial and error and see which treatment methods best suit you.