If you exercise on a regular basis and don’t get delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) a day or two after your workout, does it mean that your workout wasn’t effective or even a waste of time…?
Many people believe this to be true but muscle soreness really shouldn’t be assumed an indicator of a good or tough workout.
What is DOMS and what causes it?
Muscle are continually contracting (shortening) and extending (lengthening) when we participate in a variety of fitness activities such as boxing, pilates and yoga as we do on our Bali fitness retreats. DOMS is a familiar experience for many people, but none more-so when you’re getting back into exercise after a break, doing something you haven’t done in a while or trying new fitness activity or sport like surfing, stand-up paddle boarding or boot-camp fitness sessions like you might on Fit Food Relax Retreat.
Despite the familiarity and occurrence of DOMS, the exact cause is still not fully understood. Some theories include lactic acid, muscle spasm, connective tissue damage, micro tears to the muscle and inflammation, however most studies conclude that the likely cause of DOMS is a combination of two or more of these theories.
~ Usually appear within 12-24 hours after exercise
~ Peak after 24-72 hours
~ Subside within 3-5 days
The discomfort can range from mild muscle tenderness and stiffness to severe muscle pain and ‘I can’t get off the toilet without help’!
So, you’ve got DOMS, now what…?
It might seem that letting your muscles rest would be the best option, but the most effective treatment for alleviating the severity and duration of DOMS is to get back on the horse – yep you heard right – get back into the gym, pool, park, yoga or pilates studio and do some light exercise.
Massage may help, but studies have found that the type and duration of the massage produced varying results. Self-induced massage using a foam roller has also been shown to aid in muscle soreness, muscle activation and flexibility therefore is best used both before and after a workout.
Can you prevent DOMS?
Some preventative measures include taking an oral curcumin supplementation, which is a naturally occurring substance found in turmeric, to have a positive effect of reducing inflammation, pain and boosting the recovery of DOMS. As is including plenty of omega-3 fatty acids like those found in fish, flaxseed, eggs and walnuts, which are high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Several studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acid consumption regulates inflammatory responses, like those that contribute to DOMS caused by exercise.
So, you’re not getting any muscle soreness – now what?
Our bodies are designed to adapt to stress, so each time you exercise your body is working hard to build tolerance to those movements. Therefore, DOMS should become less frequent the more you exercise at the same intensity, particularly when you’re doing similar exercises or workouts on a regular basis.
Once you no longer experience muscle soreness from your workouts, you might start to think about changing your routine all together. Participating in a variety of fitness activities such as we do on our fitness retreats is important to keep challenging your muscles and mind in different ways ie: strength, co-ordination, balance and flexibility are all equally important ie: boxing is a great cardio workout, whilst pilates will enhance your core strength and stability and yoga to aid your flexibility.
If you feel like you’re no longer making progress or bored with your workout regime then it might be time to mix it up, try a new sport, enlist the help of a personal trainer or attend a fitness retreat like Fit Food Relax Retreat, so you can challenge your body in new ways. The most important thing is to enjoy what you’re doing so you keep going back for more.