DOM is uaually a liqueur and herbal drink celebrated and enjoyed as a tonic by the elderly and taken as a post partum recovery supplement. Well, there’s the herbal liqueur and then there is another form of DOMs that is much disliked by anyone who undergoes physical activity to an excess and intensity.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, also called muscle fever, is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. Why unaccustomed? Because the muscles worked are not accustomed to that sort of activity.
Why Do Muscles Get Sore After a Workout?
When muscles are hard at work, the soreness actually comes from micro tears in the worked muscles during activity and exercise. Post-activity, the muscle adapts rapidly to prevent muscle damage, and thereby soreness, if the exercise is repeated. The soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise. It sounds brutal: muscle tearing, but that’s just what it is, micro tears. However do note that extreme muscle tears do happen and that pain is no longer DOMs but an actual injury itself.
Exercise, strenuous activity and lifting weights damages muscle tissue, but that’s okay, because the effect of muscle damage from a bout of resistance training contributes to hypertrophy (increase in muscle size) if the training is done properly. As a result of hyperthrophy, the muscle repairs itself and builds it stronger with more muscle fibres. More muscle fibers equals more strength, more metabolism to the body.
Still, soreness can be annoying but there are ways to quickly recover from DOMS and get right back into getting strong. Use these strategies immediately after your workout to speed up healing so you build muscle faster:
A general rule of thumb on exercise is to replace the amount of fluids you lose after a workout prior to your next workout. It will be too scientific to actually weigh yourself before and after workouts as done by pro athletes, but you can judge hydration levels simply by looking at the color of your urine. If your pee resembles apple juice, it’s time to drink more water. You want to have your pee as clear as possible.
[See also: Infographic: If Your Pee Could Talk, This is What It Would Tell You]
Another way to ensure you are drinking enough water for exercise is to observe pre and post workout hydration. Still unsure? This one is a bit gross but try building up saliva in the mouth. That’s a good way to tell if you are in need of hydration.
Hydration aids muscle repair. At a cellular level, by maintaining adequate fluid levels, we can cause cells to swell, thereby reducing the amount of protein breakdown and increasing the building of new muscle tissue.
A new workout, a heavy load, or sudden quick moving jerks can cause micro tears in your muscles, which results in pain and stiffness lasting a day or two. The secret to minimizing the effects of DOMS is to flush out waste products and increase blood circulation. Older folks might opt for medicated heat plasters or heat rubs. These might give the person a short term relief effect but truthfully, it has no benefit in aiding damage repair.
One of the best ways to alleviate muscle tightness is by breaking up tight spots and muscle adhesions through massaging. Digging deeper into big phrases, you might even have heard the term myofacial release. Well, what it is is plainly a method of massage. Under our skin is a sheath of fascia which is a thin, tough, elastic type of connective tissue that wraps most structures within the human body, including muscle. Releasing the tightness of the fascia is effective through massage therapy.
While most of us urban athletes and weekend warriors don’t have personal masseurs at our service, try foam rolling. Sold in many sports accessory shops, foam rollers are basically a tube wrapped in foam. Using these foam rollers on the affected area is usually self-administered. Foam rolling plus heat will help relax you, take the pressure deeper, and optimise the rebuilding process of your body. Cold compress on the other hand is best for slowing down swelling.
Have you ever seen some athletes and people in the gym wearing these superhero-like garments which hugs the body tightly? It isn’t designed or worn for narcissistic purposes. These skin tight wear are called compression wear. The theory behind compression clothing is that super-tight shirts, shorts, and other form-fitting gear push blood through veins, thereby helping you slow fatigue. When muscles are to move and not jiggle, the muscle work to better effect.
Medical compression stockings have been used in the treatment of poor venous blood flow for more than 50 years. Taking a page off that treatment, compression garments can aid in muscle soreness recovery especially if a person needs to consistently be in training day after day.
Your body’s natural production of muscle-building chemicals — like growth hormones — increase during deep stages of sleep. Get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep to promote muscle building. Many coaches prefer their athletes to get eight to nine hours of sack time to properly recover.
There is a reason doctors prescribe rest as a form of recovery as there is only one way for muscles to be rebuilt, and that is through rest. When the muscle is totally not in movement is where recovery works faster.
Another building block for muscle, body and tissue repair is nutrition. Although it is well documented and published that protein is an essential nutrition for muscles, I am not going to advocate so. Unless you are in a muscle building program that is in need of a chunk of protein daily, please don’t waste your money on protein supplements. The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for protein is 0.8 – 1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, This amounts to:
- 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man
- 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman
While consuming protein after your workout ensures that you get nutrition back into the system faster, for the average person (even myself), a sensible balanced meal is the best recommendation.
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How do you deal with muscle soreness? Share with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!