Do you feel proud when you have sore muscles after a workout? A sense of success or pride, perhaps? Post-workout muscle pain is a common reaction after training; that’s pretty normal; after all, training is a stimulus for change. But when the pain is at the point of being incapacitated for three days or more, you have entirely overreached to the training stimulus.
Of course, training stimulus (the dose) is measured in two ways. The intensity and the duration, and fair to say both, will vary based on our athletic conditioning and our familiarity with the movement patterns involved.
So let’s understand this phenomenon called delayed onset of muscle fatigue to understand better how to fast track DOMS recovery.
Small tears cause D.O.M.s to your muscle fibres during the workout stimulus. This results in micro-tears to our muscles, associated pain the body’s inflammatory response, which is the first phase of healing.
The pain usually starts between 12 and 24 hours after exercise and peaks around 24 to 72 hours after training.
The same process is involved in building muscle—when your muscle fibres rebuild back after these tears, they recover and come back stronger. It’s a fine line between proper training stimulus and overreaching – more DOMS doesn’t necessarily equate to better or quicker muscle-building or strength-building results.
How long does it take for DOMS recovery?
It’s not a goodOverreaching is the gateway to illness, injury or both and getting too sore after a workout can be counterproductive; if you have D.O.M.s for more than 2 to 3 days, you quite likely overreached. Overreaching during Leg day at the Gym is usually the most significant contributor to D.O.M.s as you have engaged the largest muscle group. idea to train the same muscle group when you have D.O.M.s; you are better off focusing on active recovery instead.
How long does stiffness after exercise last?
A certain amount of stiffness after exercise is a good indicator that your workout was enough to stimulate change. This stiffness should last 12 to 48 hours maximum and, with the proper nutrition, rest and recovery should manifest themselves in gains or improvements.
Is DOMS good for muscle growth?
Whereas mild stiffness is a good sign of appropriate stimulation, D.O.M.s and the associated pain and discomfort are reasonable indications that you overreached beyond what is necessary for growth, which may leave you having to skip sessions with sickness or injury.
What types of workouts cause muscle soreness?
Workouts that include many eccentric exercises are more likely to leave you hobbling the next day. Strength exercises have two evident phases: the concentric (when the muscle is shortening, typically the lifting part) and the eccentric (when the muscle is lengthening, typically the lowering part).
The eccentric phase is where you’re creating tears in the muscle fibres, and it’s also where your muscles are working at their strongest.
Are there different types of muscle soreness?
You could feel a few types of muscle discomfort: the DOMS mentioned above, acute muscle soreness, or an actual injury.
Acute muscle soreness refers to the burn you’re feeling in a general sense while you’re exercising; for example, your whole leg or glutes area might be sore, which will be in the bounds of a healthy stimulus. On the other hand, the unhealthy pain of an injury would mainly be felt with a specific movement and will be sharp and focused. This is a signal to stop, Ice and rehab.
Can I exercise with sore muscles?
Yes, treat this as active recovery rather than a specific workout, such as swimming, cycling, or jogging to promote blood flow; focus on movement patterns that differ from your normal activities.
F.A.Q. – Tools and Tips for muscle soreness recovery
Will stretching get rid of DOMS, and What is the fastest way to recover from a hard workout?
Make it light, don’t fight the stretch, as your muscles may not be ready to release if they are in a state of trauma.
Protein to the rescue
Don’t undo all the hard work by eating wrong; it will not only affect your recovery, but it will also affect your gains.
Whey or plant-based protein-rich foods: cottage cheese, quinoa, beef, yoghurt
Protein is critical for recovery, building and maintaining muscle. To best recover from a challenging workout, Aim for about 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight and include some carbohydrates such as Banana to complement the protein delivery.
Make sure you are getting enough Anti-inflammatory foods: Manuka honey, nuts seeds, green leafy vegetables, berries, citrus, avocado or MCT oils.
Antioxidant foods: Teas such as green, Turmeric, pecans, beans, berries
Dark green leafy veggies, such as spinach (Magnesium-rich), unprocessed grains such as brown rice beans, avocados and nuts
Omega-3 fatty acids: fish such as Tuna salmon.
Hydration before, during, and after your workout, and don’t neglect in between workouts.
Proper hydration helps your muscles heal and helps deliver nutrients to the parts of your body that need it the most.
Should I use Ice to relieve the pain?
If you are using Ice, then you certainly overreached. Ice should only be used in case of trauma as it controls internal bleeding and relieves pain. Remember that ice delays healing and may undo some of your hard-earned gains.
Hot and Cold Contrast Therapy and sauna can be beneficial as they contract and expand the cells and stimulate the circulation system. Note that the Cold part of the treatment is not IceIce; it is cold water at around 10c.
Good old fashion remedy and still valid today, adding Epsom salts (high in magnesium) is a great way to replenish magnesium as it is absorbed through the skin.
Massage is an excellent idea for breaking down scar tissue, lengthening the muscle fascia, improving circulation and healing. Do note that you will often feel worse after a sports massage, so better to schedule this in a rest week.
Foam Rollers and percussion guns
Best applied on recovered muscles may cause muscles to tighten even more if the trauma of D.O.M.s is present.
Compression garments such as socks only make a slight difference; however, there is an increasing popularity of Intermittent Compression devices (compression boots), which are highly effective in promoting blood flow, speeding up healing and ultimately gains. In many cases, they are also beneficial in promoting sleep.
Biomats with a mixture of technology such as Far infrared, PEMF, Red Light therapy, Negative ION, and heat accelerates cell and nerve healing and promote sleep.
The #1 recovery modality, and anything that influences sleep, sleep hygiene and sleep quality is worth considering.
A cool, dark and quiet room or adding earplugs and an eye mask if your sleep is easily interrupted. Measuring sleep quantity and quality with one of the many wearables on the market is a good way to stay on target and adjust if need be. Sleep hours in tune
Prepare your muscles and joints before your workouts to help increase blood flow to your muscles and mobilise them
Dynamic warm-ups like yoga sun salutations and cat/cow, hip openers, particularly with some static holds for 10 to 15 sec – this will reduce the risk of injury and should help you hit the high notes of the quality of your session.
A cool-down is equally as important – maintaining blood flow and allowing muscles to gradually return to the normal length, which can help avoid soreness.
To summarise, the best way to treat D.O.M.s faster is to avoid them in the first place – overreaching is a big trigger of DOMS, so it makes sense that ease into a new kind of workout or progressively increase rather than overload.