What is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness?
If you’re feeling aches and pains in your muscles after you’ve been training, there’s a good chance it’s DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It’s caused by micro-tears in your muscles, which isn’t nearly as horrific as it may sound; this causes inflammation in the muscles which of course will heal given the normal amount of time between workouts – or a little longer if you’re only just getting started.
What Causes DOMS?
These micro-tears heal quickly enough, but because they happen during the eccentric contractions it can feel like a pain just to wake up in the morning without overexerting yourself! It’s all perfectly normal and the aches will soon fade, provided that you’re taking enough time to rest. The degree of pain varies from person to person; while some may feel a twinge and shrug it off, others may find it debilitating enough that they need to take painkillers and a day off work.
How to Heal Properly
The rest periods between workouts are just as important as the exercise itself. Your body needs to heal and you won’t get much of that done while you’re back lifting weights in the gym. Leave at least 24 hours between workouts to ensure that any pain you’re still feeling is the normal kind rather than a sign of physical injury; if the pain persists without you having worked out since then it could be time to seek medical advice.
Above all, don’t let the fear of what can be a pretty intense ache put you off returning to exercise; your body will build a tolerance for it as long as you’re at it often enough. Be sure too to take in plenty of protein as this can help rebuild muscle.
It's Part of Getting Stronger
The whole idea behind getting fitter is to have stronger muscles, which make getting around on your bike much easier. This is done by rebuilding muscles that are damaged through physical activity – so in building up your muscles you’re breaking them down first. That’s why it’s only natural to experience some stiffness in your muscles.
The pain should subside in a couple of days but if this isn’t the case then it’s best to see your doctor. Take some painkillers to help take your mind off the soreness and, once you’re comfortable enough, do some light jogging to try and loosen up. The RICE method should also help, and gentle massage of the muscles will get the blood pumping around the affected areas again. Increasing your protein intake will also aid the rebuilding of muscle.
Of course, delayed onset muscle soreness can simply be a result of working out those muscles that you don’t otherwise use in normal training. Make sure to keep working out in the pool and those muscles can be rebuilt through regular rest and an additional source of protein to aid development and rebuilding.