Sore muscles from a big workout? 5 tips to reduce DOMS
Feeling the dull ache or twinge of muscle soreness after your gym workout? No need to worry; unless you’re sure you’ve sustained an injury, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), also known as muscle fever, is a normal part of workout recovery.
The muscle soreness you feel after strenuous exercise is actually caused by ‘eccentric contractions’ (usually caused by lengthening exercises such as weights, squats, push ups and pull ups) as your muscle fibres experience microtrauma – mechanical damage at a very small scale as they adjust to the exertion.
How can you quicken your workout recovery, reduce the pain of DOMS, and perhaps give your aching muscles pain relief?
ifeelgood24/7 have put together our top five tips for reducing DOMS.
Tip 1 – Stretch It Out
Gentle stretching, immediately after your workout session and during the muscle soreness, can help relax the tightness in your muscles and soothe the pain. Remember to use slow, gentle stretches, including static stretches that you should hold for 30-60 seconds.
Tip 2 – Massage It Out
Had a massage lately? A deep tissue or sports massage can help speed recovery and shorten the duration of DOMS by promoting blood flow and reducing muscle tightness.
Tip 3 – Warm Up and Cool Off
Why not draw yourself a warm bath? Just like a light massage, warm water will help loosen your tight muscles and improve your blood circulation so more oxygen and nutrients can come to the aid of your aching muscles.
Don’t have a bathtub? Try switching between moderately hot and moderately cold water every two minutes in the shower. Doing this helps to increase blood flow, circulate nutrients and oxygens, and alternate the vasodilatation/vasoconstriction of blood vessels in your sore muscles.
Tip 4 – The Fruit of Your Labour
Do cherries and watermelons sound appetising? They should! Packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients that can help reduce muscle soreness when eaten before a workout, both cherries and watermelons are especially useful when starting a new workout.
Tip 5 – Recover Actively
Still want to work out? Of course you do! Active recovery, through exercises such as aerobics, is a great way to do this. Immediately after an intense workout, and in the days following, try easing yourself down with some low-impact aerobics. The increased bloodflow will help lessen muscle soreness and help quicken your workout recovery so you’ll be ready for your next gym session.
Finally, rather than cutting back entirely or going hard at your workout to avoid aching muscles, the secret to mastering DOMS over time is to gradually increase the intensity of your new exercise program (with the guidance of your PT, of course!) This will help your muscles learn to adapt rapidly and reduce damage when you repeat the same exercise.
But keep in mind this will take time, and you’ll absolutely need guidance from your trainer on how to gradually increase your limits safely.
Ask for help!
Always remember to ask your trainer for advice before applying any of these techniques. If you are not sure whether what you are experiencing DOMS or something more serious like a muscle strain, it’s best to check with your doctor.