Results Coaching Weekly Newsletter 102- DOMS Revisited

This week I wanted to revisit a well known topic among the first timer and the every-timers alike. Sore muscles! They are real, yet the inescapable reminder can be mysterious in many senses. This week we dig into a little more on what to expect, why, and how best to continue working toward health and fitness goals. With this, it is my hope that we all can start to have a little more appreciation for all the repair and rebuild of those screaming achy muscles that we are oh so familiar with. Attached is an article about soreness myths. I have also included a link below for additional myofascial and soft tissue release related to joint pain for those of you with the extra time and curiosity (to be discussed in greater detail in the following weeks). Move well, move more!

We have all been there before- whether it’s the day after a crushing boot camp, first day into the gym ever, or advancing into a new phase of movements- that inescapable feeling of muscles absolutely wrecked with soreness and tightness. There is no denying it when it happens. There is no playing it cool, and no taking it back when from head to toe it feels more like your body just got hit by a Mac truck. And sorry all, there is no promising it won’t happen again. The journey to self improvement- be it toward weight loss, strength gain, mobility goals and so on- one must provoke muscular change through tear down and rebuild mechanisms. The process of specificity of training and eventually overload, are necessary in order to adapt muscular structure and function. Why so sore? And how do we get rid of that soreness, or reduce the effects of what is officially defined as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)? Such is the recovery topic of this weekly helpful hint for health and fitness.

You may have notice DOMS may not always be predictable, sometimes sneaky, and can range in degrees of intensity for novice and expert athlete alike. We can define symptoms in a medical dictionary to the effect of muscle soreness, limited range of motion, tenderness, muscle weakness; all as a result of micro trauma to the muscle fibers and connective tissues used during intense activity. Theories on responsible mechanisms can be deduced to believed micro tears and inflammation in soft tissue fibers, as well as the accumulation of the byproducts of metabolism. The latter has actually proven more beneficial to provide energy for later muscular rebuild.

Exercise physiology texts recognize symptoms will occur delayed and peak throughout a 24 to 72 hour time frame. It is understood in the field that eccentric muscular contraction (deceleration) will incite a greater potential and severity of micro tears than other muscle actions. Lactic acid and carbon dioxide waste products build up in the blood stream and muscles as a result of high intensity and anaerobic activity to a degree that the body can no longer buffer hydrogen ions (a byproduct of energy production). So once we have done this to ourselves, how do we fix it or reduce the effect?

A study published in 2003 by the Journal of Sports Medicine put to test many modalities’ influence on the clearance and easement of the DOMS affect. Researchers are adamant that “exercise is the most effective means of alleviating the pain during DOMS.” Forms of light activity stand up past even high tech modalities such as cryotherapy, ultrasound, and electric stimulation.

Non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs may mask symptoms, analgesic topical remedies and conditional massage showed to temporarily reduce the effect. Another such study, published by Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, acknowledged the low intensity activity to help speed recovery by clearing soreness and build up through increased blood flow circulation. The same journal also published on immediate active recovery following activity significantly reduced byproduct levels in muscles faster than complete rest/passive recovery.

Notice the topic of scrutiny this week is not avoiding soreness and tightness, but recovery. More specifically, recognizing the benefit of implementing proper active recovery protocol. As opposed to what is technically called passive recovery; ie doing nothing about it, sitting around in misery, whining etc. Going back to the culprit responsible for that soreness there can be two approaches taken reduce severity of impact on soreness and duration of affliction- active recovery and warm down. There are countless studies and journals publishing affirmations of physical activity encouraging and expediting recovery process. More so than need be referenced here.

Huge take away from all findings of current research revolves around blood flow and circulation. Restructuring and rebuilding damaged tissues requires energy largely provided for by oxidative energy sources. So it is no wonder that the best remedy has to do with increasing flow of oxygen throughout the body as a result of physical activity.

Warm Down: Immediately after activity continued movement 5-20 minutes (ACSM recommendation).
Gradually reduces muscle temperature, heart rate, and restores natural breathing and oxygen flow to avoid dizziness.
Avoids blood pooling in lower extremities.
Dissipates and recirculates excessive amounts of lactic acid build up (although seen as a vital component to energy cycle and restoration of muscle glycogen) and other waste products.
Active Recovery: Non specific, light to moderate aerobic activity in days following.
Reinstates ranges of motion.
Increases blood flow for oxygen and nutrient distribution to damaged tissue sites.
Activates central nervous system.
There is still much more detail to be researched for absolute understanding of all mechanisms involved. The argument for passive recovery seems to be nonexistent in healthy cases. This goes to say here is yet another vital component to the overall turn over of muscle overload, repair, and enhancement. These effects of active recovery cannot be overlooked; nor can the influence of recovery factors including nutritional intake and timing, stretch and foam roll, and quality sleep. A systematic approach, or irrefutable recommendation is yet to be determined through research; however, the novice and expert alike are sure to reap benefits of recovery with sensible activities to recuperate even most substantial torn and damaged tissues. We will most likely never be able to avoid the situation, though in the next case of Mac truck syndrome (DOMS) we can now prepare to actively expedite the expected painful process.

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No Pain, No Gain? 5 Myths About Post-Workout Soreness.
By Christine Yu

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