Why Are You So Sore After a Workout?
You just got home from a gym session and you’re feeling pretty good, right? Then why do we sometimes feel super sore and tender a day or two after hitting the gym? This feeling is referred to as DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This is the response your body will have to a change in the intensity or duration of a workout, or the introduction of new movements unfamiliar to the body.
What Is DOMS?
DOMS has been widely studied, and yet there is no definitive answer to the specific cause of muscle soreness. It is, however, found that the eccentric muscular movement, or the “down” portion of a movement, causes micro tears in the muscle. This leads to increased muscle size, but also tenderness, soreness and inflammation.
If you’ve ever experienced this feeling, you might notice the peak pain and tenderness on the second or third day following your workout.
Curb The Severity
You might be able to curb the severity of DOMS by introducing yourself to a new program or new movement gently and gradually. But the bottom line is DOMS can’t really be prevented as long as you’re switching up your workout program and challenging your body. Lots of people, from someone first starting their fitness journey to elite level athletes, experience muscle soreness. Once your body adapts to the type of training you’re doing, your muscles will have a lessened response, decreasing and/or eliminating the soreness experienced with new exercises.
This phenomenon is also known as the repeated bout effect.
If you’re just starting out and experiencing muscle soreness, don’t get discouraged. It’s a temporary feeling and your body’s natural response to new movements.
The Remedy. Avoid The Temptation is To Sit.
When feeling tender and experiencing movement restriction, you might be tempted to sit or lie down and avoid any movement at all costs.
One way to alleviate DOMS is foam rolling. This is done by applying pressure on different muscle groups using your own body weight over a foam roller. One study found on The Journal of Athletic Training shows the benefits of foam rolling between 12 and 24 hours post training. Although foam rolling may not completely rid you of the soreness you feel, it could lessen the intensity of the feeling.
If you’re interested, you can read about the effects of foam rolling on muscle soreness here (https://www.natajournals.org/doi/full/10.4085/1062-6050-50.1.01).
As for other remedies, there is not much evidence supporting that anything else out there eliminates or alleviates the symptoms of DOMS. A few common practices done in attempt to prevent or alleviate muscle soreness include warm ups, stretching, NSAIDs, icing, heating, light activity and water submersion.
At the end of the day, there’s not much to be done about the feeling of muscle soreness except to continue to expose your body to those movements so it becomes stronger and more familiar.