DOMS : Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness | MindandMuscle.com
Too often I hear fitness enthusiasts talk about the soreness they experience after a workout and that they should’ve stretched to prevent it. While stretching is beneficial in procuring maximal benefits in resistance training, while simultaneously decreasing the risk for injury, it has nothing to do with reducing the effects of muscle soreness post-workout. Surprised? Here’s the truth: muscle soreness is inevitable but it may be decreased with a few modifications.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (aka DOMS) is the tenderness effect that your muscles experience typically within 12-24 hours after a workout, but it can begin in as early as 6 hours, and heightened muscle soreness generally occurs about the 48-hour mark. It is a direct result of damage to the muscle fibers and connective tissues elicited as a reaction to the workout. This muscle fiber structural damage is necessary to build muscle, and repair is typically observed within 72 hours.
DOMS is a necessary component to training adaptation as it reflects the intensity exhibited in a workout, the muscle tearing which occurs as a result of that workout, and the subsequent structural repair due to the adaptation to exercise. While DOMS is notably essential to enhance one’s skeletal musculature, it does have some negative side effects. The maximal force generating capacity is significantly diminished as a result of delayed onset muscle soreness; therefore, maximal and near max efforts will not be observed while any one muscle is undergoing this phenomenon. The diminished muscular capacity is due to three main components, physical disruption in the muscle (muscle tear), failure of excitation–contraction coupling (the mechanical and electrical processes involved in lengthening and shortening a muscle), and glycogen resynthesis impairment (the inability to remake glycogen). But don’t let the side effects deter you from continuing your fitness journey. There are some modifications you can make to your exercise regimen to decrease the effects of DOMS.
Since DOMS is likely due to the eccentric motion exhibited during a workout, decreasing the eccentric components of exercise will likely decrease the severity of DOMS. On the contrary, however, increasing eccentric training during one single exercise bout, while taxing and painful at first, will decrease the effects of DOMS following subsequent workouts. Other ways to manipulate the phenomenon include varying the training approach in one of two ways. The first is the easier and simpler of the two: start with low intensity and progressively increase. The second is arguably for more advanced athletes and requires quite a bit of determination and the willingness to go through the pain which follows: begin with high-intensity training, and gradually decrease the intensity of the workout. This will provide for immense muscle pain initially but will decrease muscle soreness for later bouts of exercise.
Hopefully, that provides some brief insight on what DOMS is and its importance in enhancing muscle hypertrophy. The effects of DOMS can be bothersome and often times, debilitating but the results that follow are worth the temporary soreness.
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