Whether you work out almost everyday or are new to physical fitness, you have probably experienced this at least once… a sore and tired feeling in the muscles the day after, and likely 2 days after, you exercise. Some wonder if this means they over-extended themselves, while others are convinced this indicates results.
If you’ve ever felt this, don’t worry, and if you haven’t, there’s no need to be alarmed either. Let’s investigate!
Officially called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, this condition is characterized by pain and aches in the muscles, together with decreased strength and limited mobility. The soreness can happen within a day to a couple of days after and the duration is usually between a few hours to a few days.
What causes or triggers Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?
How quickly the symptoms appear and how long the condition lasts depends on a number of things. One of them, and what most people are aware of, is how intense the workout was. Genetics and your body structure also play a role. Some bodies have a greater tendency to muscle soreness and others are capable of more endurance.
Lack of hydration may lead to DOMS as well and another contributor is your routine before and after the workout or any abrupt change in your physical activity.
If your body needs to rapidly adjust to a change of pace, from high intensity to low intensity, such as an intense workout and then afterwards, hours in bed or just sitting down, DOMS is likely.
How can I prevent this soreness?
When you’re starting a new exercise, it’s best to incorporate it into your workout slowly. This gives your muscles more time to recover. To keep your muscles at their best, it’s also important to warm up before your workout, use cool down exercises after, and even when you feel the soreness, to continue to move around though with low intensity.
Don’t forget to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially when you work out and be sure to replenish the liquids and nutrients you lost from perspiration.
What can I do to treat it every time it occurs?
In general, DOMS is not serious so you will not need to go to the doctor. To ease the pain, you can rest your muscles from intense workouts for the time being, and apply a cold compress on the affected areas. Massage also helps, as well as pain relief medication. However, if the pain gets worse or doesn’t improve over time, you should see your doctor.