Feeling achy or sore after a brutal workout should come as no surprise, but it’s a total misconception to think that pain or stiffness is a sign of an excellent workout or proof that your body is making gains. Muscle strain or soreness could actually be a sign that you’ve pushed your body too hard, as training specialist David Wiener explains.
What is a muscle strain?
The most popular form of muscle strain or soreness is known as DOMS, (delayed onset muscle soreness), and typically happens 12-24 hours after training. DOMS are caused by intense exercise which causes micro tears in your muscle tissues. When these muscle tissues start to repair and rebuild you may feel achy, tender and stiff. You may also experience slight swelling, or a reduced range of motion.
So, why do you suffer from DOMS, and what could your body be trying to tell you about your training habits?
1. You’re an exercise virgin
One of the main reasons you could be suffering from DOMS is that you’re new to exercise, or you’re working on muscle groups you’ve neglected previously. The more you exercise, or the more you work that muscle group, the quicker they will adapt to exercise and the less likely you’ll be to experience painful DOMS in the future.
2. Your warmup doesn’t cut it
You also may be more likely to experience DOMS if you’ve not warmed up properly. Research shows that warming up thoroughly ahead of exercise can help to reduce the onset of DOMS.
3. Your diet needs work
A diet which includes healthy proteins, carbohydrates and fats can also help to ease muscle soreness and aid recovery. Healthy fats like salmon, avocado and walnuts are also known to soothe inflammation which can make muscle soreness even more painful.
4. You’ve skipped a rest day
Regular rest days can also help you to combat muscle soreness and are a vital part of any training regime. No matter what your goal, you should always take rest days and time to recover.
5. And finally…
It is important to remember, that DOMS is a type of muscle conditioning, meaning your muscles are adapting to a new activity. The next time you perform the same activity or exercise at the same intensity, there'll be less muscle tissue damage, less soreness, and a faster recovery.
You should also keep in mind that anyone and everyone can develop DOMS, from exercise newbies to elite athletes; don’t let them make a dent in your enthusiasm to get fit, the soreness will soon subside resulting in greater strength and stamina, and any pain will quickly be forgotten when you reach your goal!