Delayed Muscle Soreness

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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: How does it affect you?

If you have frequently worked hard at the gym, you will be familiar with the ain that occurs the next day.

This pain can cause you aggravation. It is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and it occurs anywhere between the time you work out and 48 hours after. The pain usually peaks at 48 hours.

DOMS can occur anywhere through out the body that has been exposed to unfamiliar or intense physical activity.

An article from ‘The Strength and Conditioning Journal’ by Bret Conteras and Brad Schoenfeld questioned why our muscles develop a delayed onset of soreness.

The article found that the contemporary theory is wrong. The contemporary theory believes that the build up of lactic acid and toxins are the source of the pain. The rejection of the acid and toxins develops inflammation and soreness around the tissue. This creates the soreness that you experience. The swelling and acid takes a while to subside.

On the other hand, Schoenfeld & Contreras believe that “Doms appear to be a product of inflammation caused by microscopic tears in the connective tissue elements that sensitize nocicpetors”. Due to this we are much more sensitive to pain. This is why it is rather difficult to do anything with your aggravated muscles.

The pain’s origin has been identified as a process of connective tissue micro-trauma.  Schoenfeld and Contreras also believe that these pockets of micro-trauma are caused by the act of lengthening or stretching your muscles.

This is called the eccentric phase. An apt name for what is an eccentric yet common phenomenon for health and fitness purists, everywhere.

How does it affect you?

Some of you may think that certain exercise nullifies the development of these micro tears. You may think you are immune.

This is not true because studies have shown that there is a correlation between Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness and exercise induced muscle damage.

If you were to develop a muscle injury, your long-term fitness goals will suffer. Both your physiology and psychology will suffer. You will not be able to produce as much force in your workouts and your development will be affected because of this. Furthermore, you will be less inclined to go to the gym and keeping your schedule when you are being halted by DOMS.

Can muscle be built from damage?

Before this question is answered, we need to develop an understanding of how our muscles work within the collective system of the body.

Your body contains 650 skeletal muscles.  These muscles contract when they receive signals from your motor neurone. These signals are transmitted between your motor neurone and skeletal muscles. The signals are bridged between the two by an autonomous cell. This cell is called ‘Sarcoplasmic Reticulum ’.

So when you see someone who is not very muscular, lifting heavy weights, it is because they have conditioned their body to receive message from their motor neurones more effectively.

This is why muscle gain is more pro-active within the initial stages of your development. From then on your muscles grow at a steady rate. 

How do they grow?

Immediately after a workout your body replaces the damaged muscle fibres by fusing muscle fibres together. These fibres contribute to the development of new muscle protein strands.

Muscle growth then occurs when the rate of muscle protein synthesis is greater than the rate of muscle protein breakdown.

However, keep in mind that this cellular process occurs when you rest and not when you are lifting the weights.

There are three factors that contribute to the growth of your muscles.

These three factors include:

·        Muscle tension.

·        Muscle damage.

·        Metabolic stress.

These three factors can lead to delayed onset muscle soreness but they will also help you develop your muscles.

In order to grow your muscles you have to stimulate them through tension. You have to adapt your muscles to a tension that they have not previously endured.

Many bodybuilders start developing muscle by lifting progressively heavier weights. This tension improves growth factors such as motor activation and satellite cell activation.

Furthermore, muscle damage causes a release of inflammatory molecules and immune system cells that activate satellite signals. This localized muscle damage can make your reactions faster. It will also improve your muscle regeneration.

This soreness is then attenuated over time by other mechanisms.

Finally, metabolic stress is caused by the formation of cells around the muscle. This causes swelling.  This swelling can be perceived as growth. This type of growth is known as sarcoplasmic hyperthrophy that increases muscles without the increase of strength.

Can muscle soreness benefit you?

Through scientific study, physiologists have determined that muscle damage can develop your muscles. The regeneration is put into motion through the degeneration of your muscle tissue. 

However, it is not known whether micro tears lead to the regeneration of muscles development on a scale that is visible.

Some people may welcome the delayed soreness because they believe that if there is no pain, there is no gain.  However, Contera and Schoenfeld believe that DOMS does not help support the growth of your muscles.

The two physiotherapists say that “although DOMS may provide a general indication that some degree of damage to muscle tissue has occurred it cannot be used as a definitive measure of the phenomena”.

So while you may pride, motivate or measure yourself based on the burn of your muscle during a workout, or the soreness of your muscle the following day, make sure to not injure yourself.

Muscles also rely reflexive gains. You don’t just need to be strong when lifting. You also need to be explosive with your movement.

How do you reduce the inevitable pain of delayed onset muscle soreness?

Try foam rolling. The cylinder of foam may contain an alchemist’s secret because it can ease tightness and tension between your muscle and the connective tissue called fascia.

Use your bodyweight to roll major muscle groups over the foam. Apply pressure to your knotted areas. This will increase the blood flow.

You could also use balms. Balms provide cooling sensation that reduces muscle pain. Menthol balms cause ions of calcium to affect neurons that sense temperature. This inhibits the brain/pain connection.

A study found that balm is more affective than ice. In fact, it was 63% more affective on the study’s participants.

You could also lightly exercise your muscles before intense workouts. Bodyweight exercises can help you warm up. Athletes who did ten maximal bicep curls were asked to do a hard workout of five sets f the maximal eccentric conditions.

They had significantly less muscle pain than the group who did not condition a week before.

This article was wrote by Chris Simon from from Origym. The company sells personal trainer courses. Chris enjoy learing about the human anatomy. He tries to frequently blog about the internal effects of external properties on the body. For example, he wrote about how music can change moods. He loves cats, music, reading and Italian food.


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