July 20, 2017

No Pain, No Gain

Alyson Wolfe

No pain, no gain! After you have a good workout you should always be sore, right? This is a very common thought when it comes to working out, but is there any truth to it? Why do we get sore and is there anything that we can do to prevent it?

At the beginning of a new exercise program, a change in sporting activities, or a dramatic increase in the duration or intensity of any exercise, muscle pain is a normal response to the new and unusual exertion. This is part of the adaptation process that leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover and grow. This process is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and describes the phenomenon of muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness that is felt 12-48 hours after exercise. It can last three-to-seven days and is generally its worst within the first two days, often DOMS will decrease over the next few days.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is thought to be a result of the microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers that resulted from your last workout. However, there is still a great deal of debate on whether or not this is the only reason. This tearing and resulting soreness depends on how hard and how long you exercise and what type of exercise you do. Any exercises that you aren’t used to can lead to DOMS and is not related to your overall fitness level.

Nothing has been scientifically proven effective to eliminate DOMS and there is no simple way to effectively treat it, but many people have discovered ways that help them deal with this post-workout pain.
1) Just wait. The pain will go away in three-to-seven days with no special treatment.
2) Many pro-athletes use ice baths immediately following exercise and seem to think that they are effective.
3) Do some easy aerobic exercise to help increase blood flow to the sore muscles.
4) Get a massage. Some studies have found a 30% reduction in swelling and alleviation of DOMS following a massage.
5) Although it will not aid in the healing of the muscle, simply taking any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (aspirin or ibuprofen) may reduce the soreness temporarily.
6) Consume a higher amount of antioxidant rich foods. Recent research is showing a significant decrease in self reported pain levels from athletes consuming drinks and foods high in antioxidants. In one recent test at the Oregon Health and Science University, athletes consuming tart cherry juice twice daily for a week before a race reported 23% less pain at the end of the race than the placebo group.

While DOMS is very common and can be annoying, it is not health threatening. However, it doesn’t have to be a common part of your workouts. There are things you can do to help prevent and shorten the duration of DOMS. Make sure you are warming up before your workouts and are cooling down afterwards. When beginning a new workout or exercise, start gradually and build up your time and intensity no more than ten percent per week. Try to avoid making sudden changes in the types of exercise and the duration of those exercises. Many people believe in the use of supplementation in the form of juices or vitamins, however, each individual should experiment to determine what works best for them.

If pain last longer than about a week, or increases, this may be a sign of a more serious injury and your physician should be consulted.

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