Any fitness freaks worth their salt will have experienced the pain that is delayed onset muscle soreness.
DOMS are pretty much what is said on the tin – muscle soreness which kicks in around 24-72 hours after hitting the gym hard.
Generally DOMS are a good sign that you have worked your ass off during a workout, but that is little comfort when you are in the middle of a particularly nasty bout.
But can DOMS be reduced or prevented?
As reported to the Daily Mail, generally the pain will get better the more you train and can hit fitness newbies harder than seasoned veterans – but ultimately nobody is safe.
Andy Kay, senior training tutor at British Military Fitness, said:
DOMS occurs mostly after unfamiliar exercise (such as running or conducting weight training for the first time), eccentric (lengthening) exercise or long bouts of exercise, which causes microtrauma to the muscle fibres.
Andy also believes that despite a range of products being available which allegedly alleviate pain, such as compression strapping, anti-inflammatory drugs, and cryotherapy, the best means of reducing soreness is to alter your workout.
These can only help to limit the secondary metabolic damage and cannot significantly reduce the initial damage without changing the exercise done in the first place. The most effective method is adaptation.
The first step according to Andy is not to train too intensely before you are ready – so keep weights manageable and distances reasonable. Pushing too hard too soon is only asking for trouble.
Body transformation coach Lee Constantinou believes that warming up is the key to reducing DOMS.
Warming up will improve blood flow around your body and help deliver more nutrients to your muscles to help them recover faster.
Dynamic stretches are best before working out because your muscles are not yet warm – you can move on to static stretches after.
And as you’d perhaps expect, cooling down properly is another means of avoiding increased pain as it increases blood flow to deliver essential nutrients around the body.
When you’ve finished your workout, cool down in the same way you warmed up. Keep it short. Five to ten minutes cooling down is enough if you workout for 45 minutes to one hour.
Constantinou also explained why stretching should never be overlooked.
Resistance/weight training shortens muscles because of the increased tension so by stretching you’ll be lengthening them, improving your mobility and decreasing your chances of severe DOMS.
Depending on how intense your training is, DOMS can be inevitable so taking these simple steps and building them into your training can dramatically help with your recovery and help alleviate the DOMS-like symptoms you might typically experience on leg day.
So the answers of how to reduce soreness are hardly rocket science. The more you train the less you should be affected, but that comes down to stretching, warming up and cooling down effectively – aspects of fitness which are easily overlooked due to time constraints.