We’ve all been there. Whether it’s working out after a period of absence, trying a new exercise or maybe we hit that personal best we’ve been seeking for a while. Waking up the next day can often leave us feeling tight, sore, and quite frankly like everything is creaking no matter our age!
This pain we feel is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It is caused by microscopic tears within the muscle tissue caused by the exercise.
These tears cause our bodies to create an inflammatory response which results in this pain sensation we may feel for a few days. It is often eccentric muscular contractions (when the muscle lengthens under tension) that cause DOMS. This happens typically when the intensity of what we are performing is of a high level.
It is important to note that DOMS is not a sign of a ‘good workout’. Some people think that unless you feel super sore after a workout you are not making progress, nor was the workout worth it. However, when you do push yourself to your limits yes you are likely to get sore but as we keep working out our bodies will adapt and this sensation will go away. In no way does this mean that we are not making progress or gaining from our workouts.
My top tips for dealing with muscle soreness are:
25-40g of a protein source as early as convenient post-training is always a good starting point to stimulate an aerobic response allowing muscle protein synthesis to begin. Accompany this with a rich carbohydrate food source to replenish glycogen stores. Aim for nutrient-dense foods such as veggies of all colours too!
Human growth hormone is typically at its highest when we sleep contributing to tissue repair. Lack of, or poor sleep can inhibit glucose metabolism, increase or cortisol (our stress hormone), and can even decrease testosterone production. Aim for 7-8hrs per night minimum – and don’t be afraid to be a diva about this!
3. Active recovery
Now I’m not talking about jumping into another gym workout and pushing yourself to the limit again. I’m telling you to be smart. Activities such as jogging, swimming, or walking are examples of ways we can stay active but at a low-stress level to the body. In doing this we are able to increase blood flow to worked muscles and deliver nutrients and oxygen meanwhile flushing out metabolic by-products.
Hopefully, these tips implemented correctly will help you see a positive change in your recovery. Remember that DOMS is not always that killer workout sign, but when we experience them – take them seriously.
Recover as hard as you train!