After exercise we need “time to recover” because it simply takes time for our bodies to physically and mentally recuperate. But sometimes we find ourselves literally disabled following a bout of exertion.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is moderate-to-severe pain & stiffness which peaks about 24 to 48 hours AFTER strenuous exercise.
DOMS is ‘muscle’ soreness, as distinguished from joint pain.
Typically this occurs after engaging in an activity which requires muscular exertion in a manner which we haven’t done in a while.
For example, you may be excited to try out a new stair climber machine at the YMCA and in doing so work some large muscle groups which you don’t normally work.
On a microscopic level strenuous exercise literally breaks down muscle fibers.
Many factors which may speed workout recovery (massage, icing, nutrition, rest) are near useless in reducing DOMS,
However, studies do point to a few interesting DOMS minimizing strategies, the first few of which involve HOW we train:
- Warm up muscle groups prior to their workout,
- Pre-conditioning, which involves performing concentric contractions (the lifting part of a bicep curl) 7 to 10 days prior to maximal eccentric contractions (the lowering part of a bicep curl,
- Train muscle groups more frequently, up to 3 days per week, with varying intensity, but limit maximal eccentric contractions to once every 7 to 10 days,
- For 4 days following heavy exercise train the same muscle daily, but only with light and concentric contractions,
Other research proven strategies include certain supplements:
- Caffeine at a dose of about 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. So at 95 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounce cup of coffee, that equates to about 1 cup of coffee if one weighs 95 pounds and 2.5 cups if one weighs 250 pound. Some athletes use caffeine to enhance energy, but for DOMS it can be taken either pre or post workout. Some feel that caffeine capsules may be better than coffee,
- Branched chain amino acids (BCAA) dosing. Athletes may take BCAA for a variety of purposes, but for DOMS the protocol involves taking BCAA pre & post training. Some athletes also add Taurine, another amino acid, to their BCAA protocol,
- Topical Menthol or Curcumin Cream (test it on a small area to make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin),
- Concentrated extract of tart cherry and/or blueberry skin extract (not juice) on training days. Do not take it with protein (at least 30 minutes away from protein),
Interactions: BCAA decrease the absorption of Levadopa, BCAA if used in conjunction with certain diabetes medications may make blood sugar go too low, corticosteroids (glucocorticoids) reduce the effect of BCAAs, and thyroid hormone medication slows the bodies breakdown of BCAA.