What is muscle soreness?
There have been been many theories on muscle soreness. One predominate theory is that the lactic acid buildup that occurs during exercise causes soreness. Over the years this has been shown to not be the whole picture. Lactic acid buildup occurs during and directly after an exercise bout. The body does a pretty good job at clearing out the lactic acid over the following hours after training. Therefore lactic acid buildup does not explain why we are sore days after training. For the past few years we have been looking for different explanations for this occurrence.
The period of soreness following training is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The current theory of why we experience DOMS is that during training we experience microscopic muscle damage that takes days to heal. The damage is what causes the soreness. Although soreness is not inherently bad, it definitely inhibits how well and soon you can train again. This is why recovery is essential. Active recovery helps and even prevents DOMS while promoting muscle growth. This means more quality training and greater growth.
Main causes for soreness
- The main reason for getting sore is your muscles are not adapted to the training you are making them do. For example if you stop running for weeks and then come back to it, often we try to run at the same time and intensity. In this scenario you will experience DOMS because your muscles are no longer adapted for that intense of a run. You can avoid DOMS in this situation by scaling your training to readapt to your previous intensity. Although this may feel slow and frustrating, in the long run you will see greater gains and experience less soreness.
- Overtraining will cause DOMS. You may be used to your training, but if you are not incorporating active recovery into your training cycles then you are at a high risk of overreaching. Overreaching is the state your body is in when you have been overtraining and not doing enough recovery. During this state your muscles will be extremely fatigued and you will experience a long period of DOMS.
- Poor nutrition can cause DOMS. If you are not giving the appropriate nutrition to your body to help regenerate and grow muscle then your body will be more likely to stay damaged and cause you to have DOMS.
How can I avoid soreness?
Can we say it enough? Active recovery prevents soreness (specifically DOMS). Active recovery modalities promote blood flow, increase cellular metabolism, remove adhesions, removes toxins/waste from the muscles, aligns the body, affects neurology, and improves mobility. If you are consistently doing active recovery for your body it is much less likely to experience DOMS or even overreaching for that matter.
Always have a warm-up. Remember, stretching is not an effective warm-up. We are talking about sport-specific warm-ups that target certain muscle groups and movements to enhance muscle response and get the body ready for training. On the flip side a proper cooldown is also crucial. Auki training gives this all to you and more!
Scale your training. Make sure you are building up to burnout workouts or max training. Jumping straight into max training only causes unnecessary damage and ultimately delays progress, not to mention greatly increase the risk of injury. It is smarter and more effective to adapt your body into the training you want to do.
What can I do if I’m sore?
Active recovery! Active recovery will reduce soreness and improve muscle growth. Here is a list of active recoverys we do at Athlecare to help with soreness.
- Vibration therapy
- Lymphatic massage
- Swedish massage
- Electrical stimulation
- Compression therapy
- Contrast therapy
Eat correctly. Having the appropriate diet will improve growth and recovery.
Don’t push through the soreness, but also don’t do nothing. Adapt your training to facilitate the soreness. Don’t keep pushing through the pain, it will only cause more soreness and continue to delay your progress. Instead focus on maintenance or maybe see it as a sign for a deload week, especially if you haven’t had one in a while.
Like always message us if you have any questions!