Today’s post is all about mitigating Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Now I want to be clear that DOMS is neither a good or a bad thing. It is just a part of the exercise experience for all of us. However, no one wants to be disabled the day after a heavy exercise session. So in an attempt to help us all walk normally after leg day, I will do my best to explain what causes DOMS, and how to dampen it.
Speaking of leg day, I think we have all been there. Day 1 you squat. Day 2 you feel tight. Days 2.5-4 you feel like every step, stair, and leg movement will make you cry. Days 6-7 you start to feel better and you do leg day again. This problem is experienced frequently and more severely with the initiation of an exercise program in a previously untrained person or muscle group. There is debate as to the exact cause of DOMS, however it is safe to say that muscle damage plays a large roll in its causation.
Here are a few ways to prevent DOMS when starting a new program, brought to you by the NSCA.
1. Caffeine! That’s right, a cup of Joe can help relieve some of that muscle pain. But the dose and timing make this intervention difficult to nail down. Around 5 mg/kg before a workout is recommended, but that equation isn’t always right for everyone.
2. Cryotherapy – This fancy term for ice bath, is an intervention that has been used for years. But realistically it’s just not practical. No one likes to be dunked in cold water, and especially not for the 10 minutes suggested. But hey, I won’t stop you if you want to turn your self into a Popsicle to avoid a little pain the day after a heavy lift.
3. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) – I am personally not a big fan of this intervention. Research shows that it has modest effects, and there’s no consensus on how much to take or when. For me, the best option is to take a high quality protein before and after exercise. It’s cheaper, tastier, and has a multitude of additional benefits.
4. Aerobic exercise – This should already be a part of your exercise routine, so it should be easy to implement. Doing 10-20 minutes worth of cardio before resistance exercise, or using active rest between sets, can be a great way to off set some DOMS.
I hope you all learned about some new ways to decrease your DOMS. Be sure to check out the full article for more information about each intervention, and to check out some of the science behind it all.