Many gym goers have a love/hate relationship with DOMS (also known as delayed-onset muscle soreness) as it is a gentle reminder that we did great in the gym. We hate it because it hurts to sit, stand, lay down or sometimes even breathe and we would like nothing more than an ideal solution to reducing this soreness.
It is important that you understand though that not all soreness is bad. Think of it as your body letting you know it is currently repairing itself, the end result is bigger, stronger muscles, you need to disrupt their structure. Unfamiliar or high-intensity exercise causes small microscopic tears within muscle fibers, this creates a stimulus for muscle growth and repair, basically it is part of the transformation process.
Many people find DOMS satisfying because of this, others may see it as a way of keeping out of the gym and away from their routine, you don’t want this to happen to you.
Any new program is bound to cause a little bit of soreness, especially for the first couple of weeks whilst your body adapts to the training intensity and volume. After that point, it does get better. Until then, make the best of a painful situation with these research-backed tips to speed up recovery.
Before picking up any weights, give your body a chance to loosen up. Something as simple as walking or cycling for 10 minutes before starting your workout can significantly reduce soreness in the days after your workout.
Dynamic stretching is another great choice to do as part of your pre-workout routine. This type of stretching, which requires you to move as you stretch helps activate the muscles you will use during your workouts whilst improving the range of motion, balance and coordination.
There are many, many great dynamic warm-up moves you can mix and match. A few of my favorites are:
You can also spend a decent amount of time with your foam roller, research suggests that this can enhance the range of motion before training.
I really recommend you incorporate warm-up sets before each of your major lifts rather than just jumping straight into the first working set, start with a few lighter sets first and gradually work up to your first working set. This allows your joints to work through the full range of motion whilst also increasing blood flow and nutrient delivery to the working muscle groups.
Warm-ups are also great for priming your nervous system so that the appropriate muscle fibers are firing, just be sure not to take your warm-up sets to failure.
Examples Of Warm-Up Sets For Squats
You can always include more warm-up sets before you start your first working set.
It is not recommended to do static stretching during warm-up. Research has shown that including static stretching in which you hold a specific stretch for 10-30 seconds, during the first part of your workout can actually decrease power output and have a negative effect on how much weight you can load on the bar, save the stretching for cooling down.
Post-workout stretching on the other hand can be used as a light cool-down. It won’t help to reduce any next-day soreness or discomfort but it can help with flexibility. Make sure you are holding each stretch for at least 30-60 seconds and hold each stretch at a point of mild discomfort.
This may seem counter intuitive but one of the best ways to resolve muscle soreness is to lightly train the muscles that are sore. Training whilst still sore from a previous workout can actually help to decrease future soreness and allow the body to adapt at a faster rate, a phenomenon known as ‘repeated-bout effect’.
Your body is naturally designed to recover from microtrauma, in this case, small tears in the muscle fibers and adapt so that next time you do a workout the same, you’ll experience a lot less DOMS.
This may be a bit uncomfortable, so don’t be afraid to decrease the intensity or volume of your lifts. Just be sure you’re going through the full range of motion and keeping good form.
Supplements are not some magic potion for making soreness disappear but they can help minimize some of the pain and discomfort a bit. As an example, you could also opt for extra protein pre- and post-workout. Whey and casein are great options to have before and after training to help speed up recovery and repair. Branched-chain amino acids have also been shown to reduce muscle soreness following high volume workouts.
For those pretty new to the training game, there may be some benefit to supplementing with beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate, also known as HMB. HMB is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine, and it appears to work by preventing the breakdown of proteins in the muscle. As HMB helps to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and assist in the repair process, you can also expect some improvements in your strength and muscle mass when used in combination with a resistance-training program.
You do need to take HMB consistently for 28 days though to optimally load the muscle and get the most benefit out of the supplement.
Let us also not forget about fish oil Studies have shown that supplementing with omega-3’s can help decrease both pain and swelling while increasing the range of motion following intense exercise.They are also critical for building and maintaining muscle mass, ultimately leading to better overall recovery.
None of the ways of reducing muscle soreness described here are complicated or expensive. Give these suggestions a try, but with realistic expectations. Some DOMS is inevitable. Not all of this here will work miracles but also don’t feel that the ‘fit life’ involves limping around all the time.
Take a look here at a system that can get you the body you have always wanted, not only that, it will give you the exact shape you have always wanted as well.
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