Article by Dave Groscup, IART/Med-Ex HIT Trainer
What causes DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness? Why does it usually get worse the second day after you train?
It was once thought that DOMS was caused by the buildup of lactic acid after a hard exercise session or when the trainee was unaccustomed to training and “overdid” it. Newer research has led researchers to believe that it is caused by micro tears in the muscle(s) that were trained during the workout a day or two before the soreness occurred.
Training while sore can increase the soreness and pain felt, although training with moderate intensity helps to flush blood and nutrients into the muscle, minimizing soreness in many cases. This is due to the muscle being able to rebuild itself faster with the incoming protein, vitamins and minerals. Remember to drink plenty of water to flush out waste products that result from your training and to replenish fluid lost. Muscle is comprised of 75% water so it is very important to maintain a proper water balance.
Micro tears in your muscles after training are beneficial because your body overcompensates for the minor damage to your muscles by rebuilding them stronger than they were previous to your workout. Stronger muscles are the result, so don’t be overly concerned with the soreness felt. As you become more conditioned the soreness will become a thing of the past or at least won’t be as acute as it was when you first began training.
If you change your training routine, adding new exercises or changing the reps, sets or intensity, you will often become slightly sore the next day and more so the following day.
This is because you experience inflammation which increases the second day as your body adjusts to the micro tears.
One way to minimize the pain and inflammation is to take an over the counter pain medication like Motrin or Advil. These two are great for reducing inflammation and pain. Another great option is the herb Turmeric, which contains the active ingredient Curcumin. Medical studies have shown Turmeric to be as effective at reducing inflammation as the prescription medication Celebrex. Celebrex was taken from the market by the FDA after it was shown to be a cause of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. It has returned to the market despite these dangers, so I would opt for a safer natural medicine.
By reducing muscle inflammation, you speed up healing which causes your body to increase muscle faster, allowing you to resume training more quickly.
Give your muscles adequate rest between training sessions so your body can rebuild muscle tissue, restore and build on strength levels so you will be able to train with heavier weights the next time. If you find yourself training with less weight than the previous session, you have trained before your muscles have fully recovered and need to increase the days between workouts.