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How To Avoid Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

How To Avoid Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

For those, “Oh gosh, I can’t move” days after your workout.

If you’ve started on your fitness journey then you know all too well the feeling you get after a hard workout.  That, “aah, yeah, I did something” feeling in your muscles of a job well done and a pump that promises gains in the future.  

But these gains come with pain.  As the day goes on muscle soreness creeps in and you start to feel as if you can’t even lift your dinner fork to your mouth.  This is what we call delayed onset muscle soreness or “DOMS.”  

Of course, the longer you have been working out, the less you might feel sore after and on the level of workout intensity.  But for someone just starting out, it can be real deal breaker.  After all, who wants to go to the gym AGAIN the day after when you can barely move!

Don’t worry, we’ll explain how to get around these DOMS and give you a few tips and tricks on how to recover from them faster.  

What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?

We aren’t just talking about the buildup of lactic acid in the muscle here as some may think.  We’re talking about actual muscle injury, small tears in the connective tissues followed by inflammation to the fibers.  

Anyone can fall prey to DOMS, to the newbie just starting out to the seasoned gym goer with the six pack and ripped shoulders.  They can present themselves 24-28 hours after the muscles have been exercised and occur when the workout presents more stress than what the muscles are used to doing.  (Hence why we workout, it’s all about those gains.)  But no one wants to workout to the point where muscle soreness is crippling.  Always lift at your level and move up in small increments.  

General muscle soreness should begin to lessen after about 2-3 days after the initial workout.

Symptoms

Would it be dumb to mention that soreness is a symptom?  Yeah, we thought so.  

But aside from soreness, you may also notice the muscles affected are swollen (not the good kind of swollen) and feel sensitive to the touch.  This is borderline injury here and needs to be treated with all seriousness to get you ready for the next workout session.  

The key to treating DOMS is to not stop what you are doing.  You might want to take days off until you don’t feel so sore anymore, but actually, continuing to work the muscle and move them is what will help alleviate the symptoms quicker.  

How To Heal Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Quicker

Stretch before and after your workouts.

We know your time is precious but if you skip this vital part in your gym routine then you are doing yourself more harm than good.  You might want to rush right in and hit the weights and stay right up until you have to book it home.  But scheduling time for stretching is critical for proper muscle development, strengthening, and healing.  We’re talking a solid 5-10 minutes before and after each workout for a proper warmup and cool down.  

Foam rolling your muscles.

Using a foam roller after you workout will help increase your muscle recovery time.  When you’re sore, your muscle fibers get knotted up.  By using a foam roller to unkink the knots you will help smooth out the muscle fibers and increase blood flow to the muscles.  The freshly oxygenated blood will help your muscles recover and dissipate that soreness faster.  

Ice and heat your muscles.

Using ice will help shrink inflamed tissue and cut your healing time in half.  You can use a bag of frozen peas to form around sore calves or shoulders for a more effective icing session.  Additionally, heating a muscle can be used to relax the muscle.  Using the two together will overall increase muscle health and recovery.  You can also consider using rub on muscle ointment such as Icy Hot to achieve a similar effect.  

Using Anti-inflammatory medication.

No, you are not a sissy if you have to use Advil or Motrin to help you function after a tough workout.  These meds are designed to help reduce pain and swelling.  If your soreness is severe enough it may inhibit you from your normal daily activities and that’s where these can help.  Keep in mind that if you do use these they may mask soreness when the muscle is still in recovery.  You might feel like you can rework the muscles again before they are ready and this can cause further injury.  So, know your body and listen to it.  

Keep moving  

When you’re sore, the last thing you want to do is move more but, that’s exactly what you have to do.  Take a walk or do some cardio to keep those muscles moving and keep blood circulating.  This will help loosen them up and repair the torn tissues.  

Don’t Skip Your Workout

With a serious case of DOMS you might be tempted to take a break from working out.  Your legs are so sore even just bending over to pick up a weight makes you cringe in pain.  Well, suck it up buttercup.  Don’t let one case of muscle soreness keep you from going to the gym and chance ruining your workout routine.  One day off can lead to two, and three and four days off and you lose the ground you gained.  If your legs are sore, workout your arms.  If your arms are sore, workout your core.  Just do something to keep your body in motion and to stick with your routine.  

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