Before we get into minimizing muscle soreness, we need to first establish what exactly happens to our bodies when we feel sore. There are two types of soreness: sore and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Sore is when you feel that your muscles have been trained and lasts about 48 hours. DOMS is another level of soreness referring to the immense amount of muscle tightness and soreness after a hard workout.
DOMS is most noticeable at the beginning of a new training cycle, or when introducing a new style of training into your program, for example the known Astrofit Fit Test. A big contributor to DOMS is also intensity and duration of intensity of your workouts; how intense and how long are you keeping that intensity for?
There are 5 main mechanisms for muscle soreness after a workout:
- lactic acid buildup
- muscle spasms
- connective tissue damage
- muscle damage
These can affect your physical performance by causing reduced joint range of motion, shock attenuation and power. This means that you will feel very tight when executing movements, such as the squat; it may feel like an air squat takes up all your energy and your range of motion is compromised. Also, if you were to go on a run when you’re extremely sore, you will feel more impact from your feet hitting the ground than you would normally. Your power output during workouts will be diminished, which is why it is suggested to give a given muscle group 48-72 hours rest between training sessions, so that you can have a proper recovery.
Note: you can train every day, but you can’t train the same muscle every day.
The most common cause of DOMS is eccentric training: training in negative. For example, if you’re doing a pushup, when bringing yourself to the bottom position of the movement, in an eccentric training program, you would take 3-4 seconds to get there, and then you would explode up as fast as you can; this type of training is said to recruit many more muscle fibres, as well as increase the likelihood to DOMS.
Astrofit Coach Tip: Build up to eccentric exercises slowly. Don’t jump to a 4s negative right away, as your muscle tissue isn’t ready yet to handle that much strain. Start with a one second negative and add a second every training (or other training, depending on how you’re progressing). This will reduce soreness as well as reduce your chances of injury.
The most common way for treatment of extreme muscle soreness is putting ice on the sore muscle to avoid inflammation followed by massaging the area to improve blood flow and loosen up tight muscles. When massaging the muscle tissue, you’re also able to break up any lactic acid build up, which will help in reducing soreness. You can also get into a stretching routine to keep flexibility and mobility in your joints and muscles, or go for walks and swims when you’re feeling too sore, to help blood circulation. A hot bath with epsom salt will also help release tension and reduce inflammation in your muscle tissue, which will help in reducing muscle soreness.
All in all, the goal is to improve blood circulation so that any built up lactic acid can flow freely in your system. Introduce stretching post-workout and give your body time to recover from strenuous workouts. If you have a fit test one day, don’t overdo on the next day; give your body a break and give your body a chance to let the lactic acid flow.
What was the most intense workout you’ve ever done? How did you feel after?