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3 Ways to Relieve Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

3 Ways to Relieve Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

by macdaddy on March 26, 2010 · 15 comments

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I spent much of last night dreading this morning’s workout. After 20 miles on Sunday, 7 on Tuesday, a hard workout with Brody on Wednesday, and 7 more miles yesterday, my body feels like it’s been run through the ringer. In fact, I’ve never felt this sore before. It’s not all bad though. Even though it’s tough for me to walk normally, my muscle soreness is a good sign that I’m pushing myself properly and that I’m getting stronger.

DOMS

If you’ve ever started a new exercise routine, or kicked your existing routine up a notch, chances are you’ve experienced Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. DOMS is a pretty well documented phenomenon that describes the pain, soreness, and stiffness occurring within 24-48 hours of starting or changing an exercise routine. The feelings associated with DOMS are actually a normal response to the unusual exertion of your muscles and is part of the process that makes your muscles stronger.

It’s believed that DOMS is caused by micro tears in your muscle fibers that occur during intense workouts. Not only do the tears themselves cause soreness, but the swelling associated with them also contributes to your discomfort.

DOMS can be rather frustrating to exercisers, especially those of us who are still inexperienced exercisers. Sometimes, the pain is enough to stop people from working out. But actually, that is one of the worst things you can do. Below are a couple of ideas that you can use to help ease the symptoms of DOMS.

RICE

RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is usually associated with acute sports injuries such as joint sprains, ligament tears, and muscle sprains. But some studies suggest that RICE works to alleviate the symptoms of DOMS as well. Unfortunately, DOMS usually affects large portions of your body so it’s tough to compress and elevate. Resting is easy if you can find the time and you can always take an ice bath. It’s cold, but it works.

Active Recovery

Active recovery is another great way to help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with DOMS. Immediately after an intense workout, and in the days following, perform some low-impact aerobic exercises. The increased blood flow may help to diminish muscle soreness and get you ready faster for your next big workout.

Massage

Ah massage, the best thing out there to help with muscle soreness. At least one study has shown that post-exercise massage can reduce muscle soreness by 30% or more. If you can afford the occasional massage, I say it’s money well spent. Try and find a therapist who specializes in sports massage. Mine likes to call our sessions “work sessions” instead of “massages.” She spends a lot of time on my calves and hamstrings. Not only does she massage, but she actively stretches my muscles which improves my flexibility. Even though I sometimes leave a session a little bit sore, I always feel better the following morning.

There are lots of ways to help your muscles feel better after a particularly tough workout. The above list is just a few that I have tried and seem to work for me. Some people report feeling better after a dip in the jacuzzi. Some stretch in the shower. Still others take NSAIDS like Advil. It’s important to remember that if one thing doesn’t work for you, try something different until you solve the problem. One thing that I’m fairly certain of is that DOMS is a temporary condition. Even though it is uncomfortable and annoying, you shouldn’t let it get you down or stop you from getting your workouts in. Muscle soreness is your body’s way of telling you that you’re using it well and that it’s getting stronger. And that is something you can be proud of.

How often are you sore after your workouts? What are some of the tricks that you’ve learned to get through it faster?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Seth@1010in2010 March 26, 2010 at 5:59 am

I don’t think I’m going to go for the ice bath — but I’d love the massage!
.-= Seth@1010in2010´s last blog ..More Comparison Pics & Busted Ankle Workout =-.

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2 fit36.com March 26, 2010 at 7:45 am

Proper warm up and (especially) cool down seem to help.
.-= fit36.com´s last blog ..How Many Calories Do You Need? =-.

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3 Anne Keckler | ACSM Certified Personal Trainer March 26, 2010 at 8:05 am

is part of the process that makes your muscles stronger

This can lead people to believe that DOMS is necessary to progress, which is not the case. Many people who no longer experience DOMS are still making progress, and one should not rely on pain or discomfort as an indicator that your exercise routine is working.

Good tips on recovery! Have you looked into foam rollers?
.-= Anne Keckler | ACSM Certified Personal Trainer´s last blog ..What Is Fitness? =-.

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4 macdaddy March 26, 2010 at 8:12 am

Anne–If those people change up their routine dramatically, don’t they too get DOMS? I didn’t mean to imply that it’s necessary. But it IS very common. And yes, I love a good foam roller! Much cheaper than a massage, no?

fit36–I totally agree about the cool down. I used to hate cooling down because exercise was a chore and I just wanted to be done. But now that I love it, a good cool down is a nice way to relax and enjoy the accomplishment of a good, hard workout.

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5 fit36.com March 26, 2010 at 10:51 am

Anne: What?!?!? You mean that “no pain, no gain” isn’t necessarily true? ;-)
.-= fit36.com´s last blog ..How Many Calories Do You Need? =-.

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6 Brandon March 26, 2010 at 4:05 pm

When I do get muscle pains after a tough workout, it’s usually near the end of that 24-48 hour window, 2 days later. I’ve found that stretching well before hand helps a lot, as does ice. Now that I’m into a regular exercise routine, I find that I haven’t been getting as sore lately – maybe that means it’s time for me to step it up a notch?
.-= Brandon´s last blog ..Weekly weigh-in #12: Star Wars Edition =-.

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7 Joe March 26, 2010 at 5:40 pm

It’s always the 2nd day. I had no idea there was an actual term for it. About three years ago I started lifting as a cross train, I missed a day of work from being so sore. Next time I can tell them I have a documented medical phenomenon. These are high mileage weeks I’m reading, very nice.

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8 Bekka March 27, 2010 at 8:16 am

Two words: FISH OIL.

Supplementing with fish oil reduces inflammation and can greatly reduce soreness. Find out how much you should be taking here: http://whole9life.com/fish-oil/ You should probably be taking significantly more than the bottle tells you to take.

For more info on fish oil: http://robbwolf.com/?tag=fish-oil
.-= Bekka´s last blog ..1 minute ladder extravanganza =-.

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9 macdaddy March 27, 2010 at 8:19 am

Bekka–Interesting! I’ve never thought about supplementing with fish oil. Though my wife did bring it up the other day. If it helps, I’ll give it a shot. Where you been lately? :)

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10 Beth March 27, 2010 at 12:19 pm

First of all, anyone who runs 20 miles is not an inexperienced exerciser.

My trainer says a small chocolate milk directly after the workout helps. I’m not sure why.

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11 Brandon March 27, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Anne-I completely agree that DOMS is not a very indication of a “good” workout. I used to work out pretty heavily (around 5 times/week weight training), and very rarely experienced serious DOMS. I made great progress by following a workout routine that changed every 3 weeks.

I will admit that the first month was filled with DOMS as it was all circuit training. The training grew in intensity each week, but after the adaption phase I was OK.
.-= Brandon´s last blog ..Turbulence Training: Weight Loss Made Easy =-.

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12 Deby March 29, 2010 at 2:48 am

Hi was just reading the blog :) Have you guys read Dr Al Sears Book P.A.C.E … Just thought I would throw a spanner in the works ……. I am following it at the moment and find it is enjoyable and is producing excellent results . It has changed my thoughts on the way I have always exercised …. definately worth a read.

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13 Deby March 29, 2010 at 2:53 am

Ah forgot to tell you how I “manage” soreness after training :) I make sure that I keep going everyday … usually with walking and light jogging … I basically work through it but without the same intensity that initially made me sore :) 15yrs in the military I had no choice lol :)

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14 Cathy March 30, 2010 at 12:59 am

Well my glutes are suffering DOMs today – but I think I’ll skip the ice bath and asking for a massage. :P Went for a run this morning, hopefully that helped.
.-= Cathy´s last blog ..Frustrations and Hurdles, to make my life more interesting =-.

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15 Anon. July 3, 2010 at 7:29 am

Drinking plenty of water the next day seems to help a lot.

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