Why do I have sore muscles the day after a workout?
Although some workouts may seem tough at the time you’re doing them, often it’s not until the next day that you really start feeling sore. Your body isn’t just being weird! You have sore muscles because of something called DOMS.
What is DOMS?
DOMS stands for ‘Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness’. Basically when you push your body hard to do something it wasn’t previously able to do, microscopic tears occur in your muscles. Between around 24-72 hours or so following an intense workout, these tears start to heal and adapt to make your muscles stronger so that in the future you will be able to cope easier with the type of exercise you just did. This is why we get stronger and can keep on improving with practice! This is also why it’s often recommended to have your protein shakes following a workout – because protein acts like building blocks to help your muscles repair.
DOMS will usually happen when you are doing some kind of resistance based training such as exercising using weights, TRX, yoga or pilates. Remember though that this is like a dull ache, pain or stiffness in your muscles, and shouldn’t be felt in your joints. If it lasts any longer than 3-4 days without showing any signs of improvement, or the pain is sharp, it’s likely that it isn’t DOMS and you may be injured so you should consult a professional.
DOMS sounds terrible!
It’s not necessarily terrible! DOMS is a sign you have given yourself a good workout, and a sign that you are going to get stronger.
If you’re getting really bad DOMS symptoms following an exercise session, it’s best to try reducing the intensity of your training next time. While it’s good to get workout results and feeling a little uncomfortable the next day isn’t too bad, there’s little point in training so hard you can barely move the next day.
How can I alleviate the pain?!
Unfortunately, you need to wait for those microscopic tears in your muscles to heal. Although it may feel like sitting down and having a rest is the only thing you want to do, the opposite is actually what will help alleviate the soreness. Do some gentle cardiovascular exercise that gets the sore muscles moving and warm (which will promote blood and oxygen flow to the muscles); an example of this would be to go for a walk, or use a crosstrainer on a low level. Then follow it up by some equally gentle stretching of the affected areas.
Make sure that you don’t push yourself too hard again, as you should allow the affected muscles to heal properly in between workouts. This is why exercise professionals will often either recommend to alternate your strength and cardio training (i.e. Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays – Strength training, Tuesdays/Thursdays – Cardio), or advise you to train different body parts on different days to allow things to heal (i.e. Monday – Upper body, Tuesdays – Lower body, Wednesdays – Cardio etc.). Consult a personal trainer or other exercise professional if you want more details on how to do this.
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