So, we’ve been back training just over a week now and lots of people are feeling very sore. In good news, well done for working hard enough to experience DOMS, but if those stairs are feeling like climbing Everest, let's see what can help ease those aches and pains.
Firstly, DOM’s or delayed onset muscle soreness is completely normal. The pain you are feeling is a result of lots of micro-tears caused by exercise, contrary to popular belief and the words of many PE teachers, it has absolutely nothing to do with lactic acid.
Secondly, it won’t be this bad forever. The soreness you’re feeling now is because we’ve had a significant amount of time off training or training in a different way, so now the return to weights and more explosive movements are overloading your muscular system. As with most things in life, once you get more used to it, it gets easier. Your muscles will be better equipped with a bigger cross sectional area or an adapted percentage of fibre types to deal with the training you are undertaking, so less damage will be caused and less soreness experienced.
DOM’s typically last anywhere from two to five days. This is a normal range, but a really intense weights session can sometimes leave you feeling sore past the five day mark. Whilst nothing is 100% effective in the treatment of muscle soreness, there are definitely things that help ease the pain and may allow you to hit your next session feeling less achey.
Active recovery is a great way to ease those post lockdown aches. A gentle walk or cycle, a slow swim or some yoga increases circulation to your muscles, helping the delivery of the proteins and other goodness essential to muscle recovery. Massage is another way to increase circulation in a more passive way. Getting yourself booked in for a sports massage will help alleviate some of those aches and pains and help keep you injury free. Lastly, whilst training hard is great and lots of people are training harder than ever to make up for lost time, rest is a really important recovery tool. The majority of your healing takes place whilst you’re asleep. So, train hard but also rest well.
Finally, quite a few people have mentioned missing sessions due to DOM’s. Let me say this nice and clearly- It is safe to train with DOM’s! It may initially be a little uncomfortable but once your muscles are warmed up the ache will ease during your session. So, think twice about skipping leg day because of aching!
So there we have it, muscle soreness is completely normal when you’re working hard in the gym but being proactive can help reduce the soreness and get you hitting your next gym session feeling great.