Everyone has felt the pain of doing a hard workout. You are tight, you can’t move, going to the toilet is excruciating, and you can’t even think about working out again within the next week. You stretch, doesn’t help. You go to the pool, doesn’t help. There is a view out there that taking some anti-inflammatory drugs will help ease the pain. Is that a good idea? Absolutely not.What Is The Pain?
DOMS. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Name says it all. It peaks after 12-48 hours and it definitely is sore. People usually experience DOMS when they begin an exercise program, after a change in sports activities, or after an unusually hard workout. It is a very normal response and is a part of the adaptation process. Which means, you need to get this pain to get your gains. It will generally subside after a few days. The actual mechanism of DOMS is still under a fair bit of debate, but it is generally thought to be caused by microscopic tears within the muscle. This is totally different to a sprain or a strain, where you actually injure the muscle. When you work out, you will always to some damage to the muscle, thats what you are trying to acheieve. This damage will then promote healing, which will promote adaptation. It’s how you get your gains. In saying that, it isn’t necessary to feel DOMS after every workout! But it is normal.
So How Do I Get Rid Of It?
Hmmm well time heals everything. There are studies saying massage can help reduce the pain of DOMS by about 30%, but not he swelling. Stretching feels good, but won’t reduce DOMS. Active recovery is much the same deal. Ant- inflammatory drugs are thought to have some influence on reducing the pain of DOMS, but it will only hinder what you initially set out to do.
Why Not Anti-Inflams?
The adaptation process that you are going through when feeling DOMS is normal. When you damage a muscle, it wants to repair. Your body is smarter than you, you have to remember that. We naturally produce chemicals and hormones that help heal. When you have DOMS, your body responds by sending things to the muscle that will help heal it. You get an inflammatory response. Hence the pain and swelling. This response is completely normal, and is actually needed for the muscle to heal properly, over and above what it was before. Which means, if you let it heal, you get the gains that you wanted in the first place. If you take anti inflammatory drugs, you are inhibiting this process. Sure, you might get rid of some of the pain, but you won’t get your gains. Another side effect of these drugs is protein synthesis is completely shut down. Thats bad. When you workout, your main idea is to build some muscle, stopping protein synthesis means stopping your muscles growing.
The best thing to do when dealing with DOMS, is to do all the right recovery techniques, and let time take its course. There is no hard research to say that recovery techniques don’t help DOMS, but they certainly will speed up other areas of recovery and will get you back on the park faster. Stretch, do some active recovery, go to the pool, have a massage and most importantly eat right. Your body needs protein to help repair, make sure its getting enough. Just don’t wimp out and take some drugs, it makes your last session a big waste of your time.
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