Soreness after a workout means you had a good workout right? Well not really. I want to make sure that you understand that soreness following a workout doesn't always mean that your workout was great. In the beginning, when you are first starting to train, soreness is going to happen. Your body is trying to figure out what is going and how to balance it back out into homeostasis. Many clients of mine complain that 2 days later, known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is when the real stiffness sets into play.
When you workout, you put many types of stress on your body, from breaking down your muscle fibers, to straining your heart, producing lactic acid, and challenging your central nervous system among other things. Once we finish working out and rest our body goes to work repairing itself, and when you train appropriately, your body can be ready to work out the same muscle group in under 48 hours.
Muscle discomfort is the most common characteristic of DOMS, but there are other symptoms may include reduced range of motion and joint stiffness, local swelling and tenderness, and diminished muscle strength. These symptoms appear gradually following exercise normally the next day.
You might be asking yourself, why would I want to cause trauma to my muscles. When you train with weights, you are creating micro tears into your muscles. In order for you to get stronger, this needs to occur. Think of when you train and you feel puffy and swollen. This is a natural response to your body increasing blood flow and inflammation to certain areas of your body that need to be repaired from the slight damage you have done to it.
How Can You Prevent DOMS? To minimize development of DOMS the following suggestions need to be followed:
1-Take it slow and gradually build up the amount of exercise you do in your program – remember that Rome wasn't built in a day.
2- Only increase your sets, reps and weights by more than 10% per week.
3- Ensure you do a thorough cool down following your workout
Some good advice if you are experiences symptoms of DOMS is to include foam rolling, contrast showers (alternating between hot and cold water), Epsom salt baths, increased protein intake (to increase protein synthesis), omega-3 supplementation (to reduce inflammation) and sleep. There may be times when you overdo it with your workout and feel bad. But when should you be concerned? If your level of soreness does not go down significantly after 72 hours and into the 96 hours mark or the pain becomes debilitating, you experience heavy swelling in your limbs or your urine becomes dark in color, you should see your doctor immediately.
Soreness does not mean it was a great workout. You’ll build more muscle, strength and endurance if you give your muscles a chance to take a deep breath and recover.