“Should I feel sore after a workout?”
Feeling sore after a workout is one of the most common things exercisers face.
Many people believe that it can indicate that you had a good workout, but for some, it could be a setback in their fitness progress.
If you’ve started a new workout program or have done a really intense workout, you are likely to experience DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness. It’s one of the most common reasons for muscle soreness.
Anyone can be affected by DOMS; whether you’re a fitness novice or a seasoned athlete. It is usually a positive sign for exercisers. It is best described as when your muscles feel achy or sore. The onset of soreness is felt generally 24-to-72 hours after your workout and can last for up to a week.
Your signs of DOMS may include:
- muscle aching and tenderness
- weakness in the affected muscles
- tightness or stiffness
What causes DOMS?
DOMS is quite a common consequence of “unaccustomed strenuous exercise”. The phrase speaks for itself, i.e., the body is doing exercise that it has not done before or is experiencing an additional level of exercise that it is not accustomed to. The intensity and duration of exercise are also important factors in DOMS onset.
When you exercise your muscles contract, shortening (concentric contraction) and lengthening (eccentric contraction). When your muscles are experiencing eccentric load – lengthening, the theory is that microscopic muscle tears occur. This is normal. When you build muscle, you are actually causing tiny tears to appear in your muscular fibre. The surrounding tissue will react and feel sore and tight; the overload on your muscles is an important part of growing stronger muscles. DOMS means you are experiencing the type of damage that makes it necessary to rebuild muscle tissue. When the muscle heals, it will come back denser and stronger, making it possible for your body to meet your demands. So, while DOMS may feel like an injury, it is a sign that you are strengthening your body and pushing forward towards your goals.
DOMS should not need medical intervention. However, if the pain becomes debilitating or your limbs experience heavy swelling then medical consultation becomes advisable.
The discomfort should start to ease within a few days, and you should return to normal within a week.
The best way to deal with DOMS is to prevent it.
Take it easy: Allowing your muscles time to adapt to the new stress of increasing challenge to your workout should minimise the severity of your symptoms, but it is unlikely that you can avoid muscle soreness entirely.
Push yourself, but don’t be too hard, especially if you’re a beginner. Choose a workout program that is designed for your fitness level. Start with a beginner-friendly program and progress once you feel ready. Increase the challenge of your workouts gradually. Don’t make your new routine too intense or too long and give your body time to adjust and accommodate the increased workload.
Tips for dealing with muscle soreness after a workout:
Cool-down: The cool-down phase is the most important post-workout aspect. Reserve at least 10 minutes at the end of every workout to do some light stretching or for an easy cool-down walk or jog.
Feeling sore after a workout can make it difficult for some to continue with their fitness journey. But rest assured, mild soreness is common for exercisers of any level. The good news is there are some ways to manage the pain or discomfort.
Stretch: Gentle stretching after the workout helps reduce lactic acid build-up which is the main cause of soreness. Stretching decreases muscle tension by relaxing the muscles and reducing the stress. Try some simple stretches like arm circles; stretch your calves and hamstrings; try some hip flexor stetches, some spinal twists and sitting in child’s pose. The Foam Roller™ is a great tool for reducing muscle soreness and improving post-workout recovery.
Massage can relieve DOMS symptoms — and promote healing
Nothing does more to help with post-workout soreness than massage. In its article ‘Why Do I Feel Pain After Exercise?’, the NHS lists massage as an effective method of treatment for DOMS. A 2005 peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Athletic Training found that massage reduced DOMS pain by 30% and reduced swelling as well.
Massage can do more than relieve DOMS symptoms; It can help improve strength and flexibility and relieve stress, so you get the maximum benefit from your training.
• Massage provides pain relief and improves healing by lengthening and stretching painful, damaged, bunched-up muscle fibres and promoting flexibility.
• Massage reduces inflammation and tenderness by improving circulation.
• Massage may help improve strength by increasing blood circulation to developing muscles.
Everyone agrees that massage is a highly effective treatment. It reduces pain and inflammation, improves circulation and promotes relaxation. Massage de-stresses both body and mind.
Hot and Cod treatment: When it comes to treating DOMS, some swear by icing the sore muscles, and some think heat therapy is a better strategy. Hot and cold treatments can be used to reduce muscle soreness and pain. Alter-nating cold and heat may help reduce exercise induced muscle soreness. Keep in mind that heat boosts the flow of blood and nutrients to an area of the body, and cold slows blood flow, reducing swelling and pain. Never use extreme heat, and never put ice directly onto the skin.
• Always perform a warm-up prior to any high-intensity exercise.
• Always cool down and stretch after exercise.
• When starting a new activity, do little and often to allow your muscles to become accustomed to these new strains.
• In particular, be very careful when you introduce plyometric exercises such as hopping and bounding. You may not realise at the time just how much stress you are putting the muscle through.
• Whether you are a regular exerciser or a beginner, build up gradually and allow your body time to recover in between sessions.
Don’t give Up.
If you have become unaccustomed to exercise; perhaps you’ve had surgery or have been recovering from injury; maybe you've had a baby or are just starting a fitness regime because you’ve been medically advised to do so, don’t be put off by an experience of DOMS.
Regular participation in a quality exercise regime will enable your body to learn how to adapt to stresses and become stronger. With careful management of increasing exercise challenge, the incidence of DOMS becomes less prolonged or pronounced because your muscles have memory; your body will learn and adapt.