There’s no mistaking it, that soreness that creeps in after a punishing workout and proceeds to plague your movements for the next few days. According to WebMD, delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS, is in fact, “tiny injuries called microdamage in the muscle fibers and connective tissue.” It generally happens after you step up your workout, try a new strenuous activity, or use eccentric muscle contractions (increasing tension on a muscle when it is lengthening, like when running downhill or doing pushups).
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DOMS usually peaks at around 48 hours after your workout, and those few days can certainly be a challenge. Here are some ideas from around the web on ways to defeat DOMS:
- Rest. Have you ever heard the phrase, “if it hurts, don’t do it”? Allow your body to recover by giving it a break (usually 3-7 days).
- Apply Heat. Use heat via heating pad or warm bath to increase blood flow to the area and alleviate soreness.
- Stretch. There is serious debate about whether or not stretching actually helps DOMS, but there’s no denying that it’s at least satisfying to stretch when you’re sore. Some experts maintain that it helps ease muscle tension, and can prevent muscles from tensing up and the pain getting worse.
- Light Exercise or “Active Recovery.” Think taking a walk or going for a light swim, getting your blood flowing and your muscles warm. However, be sure you don’t over do it–if you pile another hard workout on top of the first, you might just make your soreness worse.
- Anti-Inflammatories and Supplements. There are the standard anti-inflammatories like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, which can help with pain, but don’t help with actual recovery. There are also options like the regular intake of probiotics, lemon verbena supplements, or Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, that have all been said to help with soreness and recovery after a workout.
While there is no one easy solution for beating post killer-workout soreness, there are plenty of choices. Do some personalized real-time research on delayed onset muscle soreness, and see what works best for you.