My legs, calves, thighs, and arms are extremely sore a day after lifting heavy. I remember running the mile in high school and waking up the next morning finding difficulty in walking down the stairs. Little did I know, but I had symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness and payed the price for it. This supreme muscle soreness can happen to anyone who is not used to aerobic exercise. Muscles increase in mass from progressive overload, and a spike of lactic acid can cause muscle aches throughout the entire body. It is actually the lactic acid which causes DOMS, and differentiating this from an injury such as tendonitis is very important in maintaining optimal health.
What is DOMS?
Delayed onset muscle soreness, also known as DOMS to many bodybuilders and weightlifters, is a common problem when working out for long periods of time. Causing extreme pain in muscles, delayed onset muscle soreness is not noticeable immediately. The muscle pain is usually felt within 24 hours of a strenuous exercise. If your body is not used to lifting heavy weights, or your body is taking a break and suddenly going hard again, then you will experience DOMS. Most specifically, it is caused by a collection of lactic acid that tells your body the muscle is repairing itself. Most people get this feeling in their legs after running the day before or jumping on to maxing out at squats.
Muscle soreness does not mean that your muscles are growing unless there is a calorie buffer above the individuals basic metabolic rate. For most beginner weightlifters, even a light training program can invoke pain, especially after performing a few sets of squats. When I did squats for the first time, I remember my legs burning so bad for the next 3 days. A burning sensation in your thighs and calves is natural for many people who start lifting regularly. After about a week, your body will adapt and the pain will subside. Stay persistent and the gains will come.
DOMS is proof that the stimulated muscle has achieved a heavy enough workout to allow for growth. The muscle fibers have been substantially ripped and this generates an opportunity for growth. Don’t cry at your burning legs, instead be victorious of your future gigantic thighs! If you are lifting weights to build muscle, always be sure to check your basic calorie intake and try to eat enough calories to be above it. This produces a calorie surplus and will produce optimal muscle building environments. It’s simple, if you don’t have the calories to put towards building muscle, you won’t build muscle. Also, focusing on eating enough of your calories in protein is important. A simple trick to getting leaner is to eat a higher percentage of your calories in protein, as opposed to fat or carbohydrates.
DOMS recovery methods
There are a few methods to get rid of DOMS, but the best seems to lift everyday for a week. Go back to the gym and perform about 30 minutes of stretches. Many lifters don’t realize the benefits of a few minutes of stretching, and for this they will experience painful burning. Stretch all of the possible muscles, drinking lots of water after. Try rolling your ankles, wrists, and elbows. Pull your arms behind your head and stretch them to ease muscle pain. Another great tip is to get a massage from someone, this seems to help for many people and can get rid of muscle pain after lifting fast since many chiropractors know how to ease the muscle. After 24-72 hours of the first workout, go back and perform the same lifts. This will shock your body and help in the recovery of the muscle fibers. Another great tip is to purchase a foam roller. Some of these are pretty expensive, but you just need a simple pool noodle to loosen up some muscles. Many professional athletes use foam rollers to relax and soothe a muscle that has experienced hypertrophy.
One of the best ways to get rid of delayed onset muscle soreness is to eat the right food. Proper nutrition is essential for curing DOMS overnight and making your muscle soreness go away. Load up on protein post-workout to ensure the body is receiving proper nutrients and can add those resources to the allocation of calories dedicated to helping muscles recover. Blueberries and peanut butter are my favorite. There are many supplement shakes that guarantee a lessened effect of DOMS. Perform proper research before buying any supplement. Lactic acid is the main source of muscle soreness, and there are many compounds that reduce the production of lactic acid which can lead to the elimination of muscle pain. I find ice to be the best way to get rid of DOMS in arms, but heat seems to work best to get rid of DOMS in legs.
Ibuprofen works great at reducing DOMS in arms and legs. Low-dose painkillers have been proven to reduce soreness and take the edge off of this working out side effect. A long, warm bath is a great natural way to soothe your muscles and reduce swelling. The age and skeletal system of the trainer can greatly affect the rate of inflammatory response. Older lifters generally experience greater pain after lifting from breaks. Younger lifters, especially those in their late teens and early 20’s, seem to recover from atrophy soreness extremely quicker. This is in congruence with building muscle and gaining strength as well.
Drink enough water to prevent dehydration. The lack of water in cells will create dehydration which is also painful. A combination of DOMS, dehydration, and a serious illness can be the downfall of a trainer for several months. Even life-long lifters and bodybuilders can still feel the pain of muscle soreness. The burning of muscles is just a byproduct of having massively huge muscles. To many people, Doms can actually be a good thing because it proves that your muscles are growing.
An alternative way to recover from DOMS faster is to sleep more. Increase your sleeping periods to at least 8 hours a night. Some athletes even sleep for more than 8 hours in a single day using a special method called polyphasic sleep patterns. This will give your body time to grow and revive those broken muscle fibers to eliminate the pain associated with lifting. Genetics is a great factor of exercise pain, and you can get the upper hand by giving your body enough rest. Sleeping in the right position is also very important when it comes to rejuvenating your energy. Men’s Health recommends sleeping on your back for the best results. Try to keep the light and noise levels low in the room you’re sleeping in as well. There are many tips you can take in the Get Rid Of Insomnia article which can be applied to a perfect sleeping environment.
A weightlifting injury can become a serious problem and should be addressed by a professional. If one experiences DOMS for more than 3 days, consider visiting your local doctor about future options. Many injuries can be mistaken as delayed onset muscle soreness. Be proactive and don’t confuse DOMS as tendinitis or a broken bone. Take your lifting and exercise lightly when you think there may be a problem developing in your body. Instead of giving it 100%, give only 50% and listen to your body. Many people don’t listen to their body enough, which leads to over stimulation and eventually injuries.
Some new research is proving that the intensity and time exposure of the workout can cause different pains. In fact, your search of how to get rid of muscle soreness may reside simply in the lifts and exercises you are attempting. For example, 4 sets of 8 squats would not cause as much pain as 8 sets of 4 squats at a higher weight. Getting rid of sore thighs may be as easy as focusing on building muscle strength as opposed to muscle mass. The creation and removal of lactic acid is faster for higher weight, yet lower rep conditioning. The soreness caused from weightlifting or moving stuff around is caused by this lactic acid and can be reduced by focusing on the minimum amount of strain to your muscles.
After a serious workout, the intense burning sensation will last for the next several days. By day 4, the pain should be completely relieved. For many people, even a simple 20 minute run is enough aerobic exercise to produce lactic acid and start the process of DOMS. I recommend starting out lifting at a light weight and waiting a few months before increasing the weight to prevent DOMS, since starting heavy also increases the chance of obtaining an injury or hurting yourself.