Do you remember the first time you were really sore from a workout? You might have done something new or been just getting back into it. You might have even said some bad words...
Me? I want to not be able to walk down the stairs the day after I've worked my quads. But I'm crazy like that. Muscle soreness, or "delayed onset muscle soreness", DOMS - is the result of micro tears during the eccentric contraction (when the muscle is lengthening under load).
DOMS is a normal process of muscle adaptation and allows for our muscles to grow and gain strength and stamina. We usually feel the soreness a day or two days following the activity or exercise. Note this is not the same as an acute injury like a strain or sprain. Nothing like it.
What do we do? Well, the jury is out and researchers don't agree. But there are a few things which are generally accepted:
- Active Recovery - low impact, to increase blood flow - similar to what you might do for a cool down, walking for instance
- Rest & Recover - it takes 3-7 days to wait it out
- Gentle Massage - can reduce soreness, increase blood flow and reduce inflammation
- Use R.I.C.E - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation - ice no longer than 15 minutes and always have a barrier between your skin
- Gentle Stretching - research doesn't find stretching alone to reduce muscle pain, but it feels good
Knowing a little bit about muscle soreness 101 should help you determine if you might be overtraining, under-training, or if your recovery is right on track! Now, can someone help me down the stairs?