Saturday, October 5, 2013

WTFitness: DOMS

All about the DOMS. You're not acquainted with our friend (HAH!) DOM? Let me paint you a picture.

You and your gym buddy get to the gym, you're totally stoked. They ask you if you wanna hit the treadmills...

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So you guys hit the weights.

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You do your workout...

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You spend a little time flexing in the mirror....

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...and then you high five before heading home.

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But after dinner and after you've enjoyed your dessert protein pancakes...you feel everything starting to stiffen up. You immediately text your gym buddy...

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You wake up the next day and one of your other friends calls you about lunch plans...

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They end up convincing you to come out, you put on your comfiest pants, you go out in public and you find you can manage walking so long as you walk a little bit like John Wayne.

Your friend looks at you and says

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Before you can eek out a reply, they hug you hello and you immediately recoil

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Those. Those are the DOMS. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It plagues novice and elite athletes/runners/weightlifters alike and runs the gambit from just your general soreness to "oh my god, I might actually need a wheelchair" soreness. You can get them running downhill, you can get them by exercising for the first time after a "dry-spell", and you certainly get them week after week of lifting heavier and heavier things.

DOMS, or muscle fever as it is sometimes called, is inflammation resulting from micro-trauma inside of the muscle. I think I've said earlier that when you do any sort of strength training you're creating micro-tears in the muscle strategically, no? DOMS are your body's way of giving you the heads up that those are healing.

There have been studies linking DOMS to eccentric exercise. If you look at most exercises, there are two phases. Phase 1: you lengthen a muscle under a workload. Phase 2: you contract a muscle under workload. Phase 1 is the eccentric phase, Phase 2 is the concentric phase. Examples of eccentric work could be the act of lowering during a barbell squat, lowering yourself during a pull-up (which is why pull-up negatives are stellar if you're building up to a pull-up), or running downhill (target: quads).

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DOMS last anywhere from 24-72 hours. In my experience 72 hours is rare, I think that's only happened to me once or twice. Most of the time, I'm in the 24-48 hours.

So what do you do if you have DOMS and really want to stay away from NSAIDs (think Advil)? Research shows that increasing blood flow to the sore area can help! Ways you can do that: light exercise like walking or an easy bike ride, hot baths/showers, foam rolling (YAY!), massage, sauna, and stretching.

I know that having DOMS totally sucks. It hurts to stand up, it hurts to sit down, it hurts to get dressed... and we won't even speak of the horrors of booty-DOMS and having to go to the bathroom...but they're a good thing! It means you've done some awesome work and you're getting stronger. It's something you'll have to decide for yourself, are your goals worth this soreness? The DOMS do get easier to deal with the more you encounter them.

However you choose to deal with your DOMS (my favorites are foam rolling, stretching, and walking/jogging)... know that you'll start to become friendly with DOM and maybe even look forward to seeing him after your next workout.

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If you're interested in readin more:
http://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200333020-00005
http://ifcss.in/JournalNo.5/AsianJournal5.pdf#page=50

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