First off, welcome to FitPlan. For a lot of you, I’m sure this isn’t going to be your first rodeo, but for others this is your first glimpse at what this community workout program is all about. We’ve got a lot of good things in store for you this time around, and one of them is this article. You see, every week I’m going to put together a little blog post highlighting one of our most frequently discussed topics from previous FitPlans. Of course, if there’s something you’re dying to hear about now, send a message to Elisabeth or myself and we’ll see about getting a write-up on it.
That being said, let’s jump right in to it. As some of you may have already found out, starting any sort of intense exercise program is going to do at least a few things to your body. It’ll jump start your metabolism, leave you with a greater appetite, maybe leave you feeling thinner, and the topic of conversation today, hold you firmly in a state of pain.
WHAT? — DOMS [Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness]
This pain I’m talking about is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS for short. First and foremost, the exact physiologic mechanism of DOMS is a topic of debate, so we can only go off of best guesses at the moment. Secondly, DOMS pain is normal. Aside from being an annoyance, there’s no negative to DOMS. This can be true in the beginner or elite athlete. One good, hard exercise session, and DOMS can pop up. It’s strange, I workout regularly, but don’t play basketball nearly as often as I should have. I played a few intense pick up games recently and could hardly move my arms afterwards. When you engage in an activity your muscles haven’t grown accustomed to, DOMS can result.
Our best guess as to why DOMS occurs revolves around the idea that we’re creating micro-tears in our muscle cells, fascia, and connective tissue when we lift heavy weights or perform an unfamiliar movement. Throw in some other ideas about lactic acid buildup and and inability to leave the muscle after exercise, and you’ve got yourself a working theory of DOMS. Of course, there are others out there, but they all primarily revolve around some sort of muscular damage or biochemical byproduct building up.
The next most important question is usually, “How do I get rid of DOMS?”. Again, the research is split, but the best evidence seems to indicate massage as being the greatest effector on reducing DOMS. There are loads of methods people swear by to reduce DOMS, and if one of them feels like it makes a difference to you, go for it. I should say, if this involves you going onto some website to buy some product that claims to reduce DOMS – well, you just stop it right there. Put that credit card back in your wallet and slowly back away from the computer. There’s no need for that.
Allow me to quickly digress; whenever you guys have questions and want to do a little exercise research of your own, start making a point to seek out peer-reviewed research. Simply adding “pub med” to the end of a google search will bring up actual scientific studies from the NCBI website. Particularly in fitness, there’s just so much overwhelming amounts of advice, tips, or guidance that is based on nothing more than one dude’s opinion. That’s not to say he’s necessarily wrong, it’s just to say there’s no strength to the comments he’s making. If you guys want to do best for yoursevles and your bodies, find the resources that are most heavily vetted and most likely going to lead to success.. I’ll get off my soapbox now…
Hopefully that helps answer a couple questions you guys may have in regards to DOMS. To recap, it’s totally normal, we don’t know much about why it starts, we don’t know a whole lot about what you can do to alleviate it, and we have no idea how to prevent – yay for the wonderful world of science! Any questions, comments, or concerns, be sure to post them in the Facebook group.
+ Matt Paley [Founder + Trainer at Share It Fitness]