We all know that the first time back at the gym after a while is the hardest. But the pain one or two days after a first workout in a while can be incredibly debilitating.
Here is a guide to DOMS, one of the biggest deterrents in getting people back to the gym!
WHAT IS DOMS?
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. It tends to kick in from as soon as six to eight hours post-exercise, but the soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise (though according to Breaking Muscle, there is much individual variation of this timeline).
While lower body soreness tends to be more difficult to live with (and memorable!) the phenomenon certainly isn’t just about the legs. DOMS can happen anywhere in the body that has recently been exposed to unfamiliar or intense exercise. Hello first time back at the gym!
WHY DO MY MUSCLES HURT AFTER A WORKOUT?
According to the NHS, when muscles are required to work harder than they're used to, or in a different way, it is believed to cause microscopic damage to the muscle fibres, resulting inmuscle soreness or stiffness. DOMS is often mistakenly believed to be caused by lactic acid build up, however, lactic acid is not involved in this process.
WHAT IS GOOD FOR SORE MUSCLES?
Tart cherry juice, ginger, and turmeric are all natural anti-inflammatories that may help minimize the pain. And in smaller studies, both watermelon juice and the topical application of arnica have also provided relief.
Other studies have shown that, at least in trained athletes, cold water baths or alternating hot-and-cold water baths may have a positive effect on recovery time.
Before you start filling your tub with ice, though, note that these studies didn’t examine pain relief, only performance recovery.
And contrary to popular belief, the jury is out on whether over-the-counter pain relievers like paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen provide much help for muscle soreness. And though one study claims that NSAIDs (drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin) may have a positive effect depending on dosage and the time of administration, more recent studies have found that the over-the-counter form is ineffective.