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The truth about muscle soreness

The cold hard truth about muscle soreness.


Let's bust some myths about muscles soreness. We have all been there. A day or two after a hard workout you get out of bed to hit the alarm, and the lagging effects from your last workout hit you like a ton of bricks. You have just entered the world of delayed onset muscle soreness. Congratulations!



Delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS for short, refers to the period of muscle soreness 24-72 hours after a workout. DOMS and muscle soreness in general is a topic that has some debate. Like many things in exercise science, there is never really a clear cut answer. However, here a few theories as to why this happens, and what you can do about it.


One theory is that DOMS has to do with structural damage within the muscle cell. For example, a part of the muscle called the z-disk has been shown to be damaged after a workout and when DOMS is present. Which could be a result of the eccentric portion of exercise. Such as the lowering into a squat or bringing dumbbell down in biceps curl. Another thought, is that after exercise, especially a hard and intense workout, the inflammatory response is elevated. This is not a bad thing as this helps our body recover. But the by products of that elevation can contribute to the feeling of pain as chemicals hit and stimulate the nerve endings surrounding the muscle. Another proposed mechanism is that the build up calcium ions which can damage parts of the muscle leading to the sensation of feeling sore. Calcium ions get released in the contraction sequence for the muscle. This can cause a series of reactions that lead to decreased muscle function. Lastly, connective tissue and the site where the tendon meets the muscle can also be altered after exercise and eccentric contractions. Hydroxyproline, a biological marker of connective tissue damage, has been found to be elevated at the same time as when DOMS is present. Which could mean the to two are related. In my own professional experience, soreness also occurs when you do an exercise or workout program that you haven't done in a while, or one that is brand new. For example, if you have never done Bulgarian split squats before, you will be using your leg muscles in a way you have never used them before. Leading to a higher chance of soreness. All things considered, muscle soreness is not a good or a bad thing. I believe that muscle soreness should not be chased. You should not workout with the goal of being super sore the next day. I look at soreness as if it happens great, if it doesn't happen also great. However, there is a caveat I would like to bring up. If you are never sore. You may not be working hard enough. Soreness can still be an indication that we pushed our muscles to a point that they have not experienced before. Which can be a good thing to make progress. Especially if you have more serious strength or muscle building goals. On the flip side, if you are always sore, you may be leaving progress on the table. If you are always sore, you can never train at 100%, and your workout quality may diminish. If this sounds like you, you may want to consider reducing the intensity and or amount of training you are doing for a week. To let the soreness decrease. What can you do to help your soreness? Only a few things have stood the test of time and research to help DOMS. Muscle activity in the form of movement seems to be beneficial. The endorphins released during exercise can help reduce the pain sensation. Massage can also be helpful to restore some of the function of the sore muscles. Although, this wont improve any biochemical function. Finally, things like cold exposure, stretching, and anti-inflammatory medication can be helpful but this may work more on a person to person way. My recommendation if you are feeling sore, is get some movement in. Something like a 30 min walk can do wonders for sore muscles. I would also take an honest look at your program and see if it is aligned with your goals and fitness levels. If you are currently writing your own training program, and want to get some professional recommendations, hit the link below and let's determine if your current program is right for you and your goals. Click this link here to book a program review call!


Check out this video here for more on the topic of muscle soreness.


References https://www.physio-pedia.com/Exercise_Induced_Muscle_Damage Delayed onset muscle soreness: what it is and how do we treat it. DOI: DOI:10.1123/jsr.5.3.234 Delayed onset muscle soreness: No pain no gain. The truth behind this adage. DOI: 10.4102/safp.v57i3.4148 All the best, Tim Stiroh PS I am now available to bring on a 3 more clients for the month of October. If you are looking to get back into shape, or start strength training for the first time, let's discuss the best plan to get you there! Click below to find out more about what makes Stiroh Fitness and Nutrition stand out. Click here!

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