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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

If you are new to physical activity or just upping your game there’s a good chance you have experienced delayed onset muscle soreness, also referred to as DOMS.   After a workout, you may feel a little muscle soreness, but with 24 hours, your muscles become so sore it’s hard to move.  Fitness regulars know this phenomenon well and know it will pass.

DOMS occurs most often when you start an exercise routine, introduce a new activity, or increase your intensity.  The soreness is the body’s way of adapting your muscles to do that activity again. It’s the reason after your first day of Body Pump with a series of squats, lunges and chest presses you are painfully sore the following day.  As you continue doing Body Pump, or any other intense exercise, your body builds on the last workout allowing you to be less and less sore as you adapt.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not a buildup of lactic acid that causes the soreness. Studies find that the soreness is a result of microtrauma to the muscles and connective tissue. This causes inflammation.  Any time you do eccentric muscle contractions, where you are lengthening the muscle like with a bicep curl, you are more likely to experience these microtraumas. Think of your muscle as a rope that you are pulling on with such force that the rope frays and realize this is what your muscles experience when you increase the weight, or introduce a new activity.

As you continue to work out and exercise those muscles you will become more accustom to the weight load. After a while, you won’t experience DOMS.  When that happens, it’s time to switch up the routine a bit by increasing the weights.   Even still, there are genetic components to how acutely we feel pain and soreness, from those that are high responders to no responders.  If you understand where you fall, you will be better able to anticipate how your body responds when you change up you routine.

The effects of DOMS ought to last 24-72 hours, with the soreness slowly going away.  If you haven’t seen much relief after 96 hours and your urine is dark, you need to see a doctor.

The best way to treat DOMS and recover is to try a Epson Salt Bath,  a foam roller,  or alternating between a cold/hot shower.  Make sure you are eating a diet that gives you all the nutrients you need to fuel your muscles and let them heal.  This is why drinking that daily Shakeology shake is so important to your fitness and recovery.

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