The weather is starting to warm up, the clouds are starting to slowly become a distant memory, and all signs point to the inevitable…SUMMER IS COMING!!
For most, that means a voice in our heads screams, or for some it whispers, “it’s time to hit the gym!” We drag our bodies, which still hold onto the remnants of bad diet decisions of holiday season, to the gym to begin the long, hard journey.
The first workout is always the hardest, but you manage to trudge through it and get it done. Post workout you feel exhausted, but you also feel a sense of accomplishment that seems to energize you. A look in the mirror with new-found determination and inspiration you think to yourself “ok…ok, let’s do this!”
Two days later you wake up and it feels like you’ve been run over by a car in your sleep. Your muscles are so sore it hurts to walk, it hurts to stand up, it hurts to sit down, it hurts to breathe…IT HURTS TO THINK! And in that moment, you second guess if this whole “summer body” thing is really worth it.
If you haven’t guessed by now, that soreness you feel after a really hard workout or even a workout that your body isn’t quite physically prepared for, is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (or DOMS). So, let’s talk about DOMS…
Why does DOMS occur?
There are several theories behind the mechanism of DOMS from a chemical, to mechanical, to structural and even neurological origin. In reality, it’s more than likely a combination of all those mentioned. One thing we DO know is that DOMS is very real and just about everyone will experience it at one time or another.
Can DOMS be avoided?
As of today, there is no known way to completely avoid DOMS. However, it has been theorized that proper nutrition and hydration before, during and after activity can decrease the intensity and duration of DOMS. Fortunately, proper nutrition and hydration is something we should be striving for regardless.
Once I get DOMS, how do I get rid of it?
Many people have made their own suggestions on ways decrease the symptoms of DOMS including, as mentioned above, nutrition/hydration, as well as massage, stretching, myofascial release, epsom salt baths and cryotherapy to name a few of the more popular methods. The only tried and true method to get rid of DOMS, without fail, is TIME.
All in all, DOMS seems to be one of those things we just can’t get away from. There exist methods to decrease the effects, and I encourage you to give them all a try (as long as it’s safe). As bad as DOMS can feel in the moment, look at it as a rite of passage on your journey to improved health.