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  • Raising Heart Rate Before Training Reduces DOMS

    A new study from California reveals that DOMS severity and duration could be significantly reduced using a technique known as “cardioacceleration”.
  • Cardioacceleration Helps Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

    One seemingly unavoidable side effect of high-intensity exercise, especially after an extended period of non-exercise, is delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
  • Muscle Soreness After Exercise (DOMS) & Stretching Myths

    Muscle soreness after exercise can be quite uncomfortable (sometimes painful). What exactly does muscle soreness mean and can you really prevent muscle soreness by stretching?

    Muscle soreness is very commonly misunderstood within the health and fitness industry. It is commonplace for one to assume that muscle soreness is directly related to the effectiveness of a workout and that muscle soreness can be avoided altogether by stretching more. Both of these assumptions are incorrect.

    Let's begin with the jargon - the muscle soreness that we are discussing is called "Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness", or "DOMS" for those who like acronyms. This muscle soreness will often peak within 24-72 hours following a strenuous workout, or, following the relatively strenuous use of muscles in a new manner.

    DOMS is typically most apparent when you first initiate a new exercise regime. The next day after your first workout can be a killer! You can be aching from head to toe in muscles that you never knew you had before!

    Alternatively, if you've just taken a month long holiday, your first week of may make you extremely stiff, because you haven't used those muscles in such a manner in an extended period of time.

    The muscle soreness after exercise that you experience is not a direct function of the "effectiveness" of your workout - no matter what your goal, whether that be weight loss, gaining muscle, toning, enhancing your fitness etc. You can have a highly effective workout and not feel any muscle soreness at all. This is because DOMS is more a function of the degree of inflammatory from microscopic trauma induced as a result of a bout of physical exercise. This trauma is most prevalent when your muscles are subjected to an activity that they are not conditioned for.

    When you experience delayed onset muscle soreness, you will notice that you become tight. The flexibility of your muscles diminishes significantly. It is the reduction of flexibility that often leads to the incorrect assumption that if you were to stretch more following a workout, this would avoid any muscle soreness the following day. Not so.

    As mentioned, muscle soreness is a result of trauma induced within muscle tissue. It has nothing to do with flexibility. Following your workout, you will be very flexible because the muscles would have warmed up and thus become far more elastic. Yet as soon as they cool down and the inflammation becomes realised (ie. the pain sets in), the muscles will tighten right up.

    Does stretching assist in overcoming DOMS? No. Stretching will enhance your flexibility, but it will not speed up the rate at which your muscles are able to repair the trauma from exercise. The muscle's recovery is a physiological process that is independent from lengthening the muscle (ie. stretching).

    Muscle soreness very acute when you begin to stretch the muscle. Therefore, if you are more flexible, the muscles won't be stretched quite as much (relatively speaking). This can relieve the discomfort that you may feel in day to day activities (like walking after exercising your legs). However, good flexibility will not decrease the amount of trauma that has been induced.

    The great thing about muscle soreness after exercise is that it's a very profound reminder of the effort that you invested during your exercise session. Call me crazy, but think of this as a trophy that you can carry around with you for days after your exercise session!

    As uncomfortable as the muscle pain may be, it is something that we all have to deal with. It is usually most profound within the first week of exercise, so if you can get over that initial hump, you'll be home free!

  • Is lactic acid (or lactate) bad? Is it why my muscles burn (acidosis)? What about DOMS?

    Lactic acid (or lactate) is an essential molecule found within the muscle cells in order to aid recovery.

    Within the last ten or so years, science has determined that lactic acid is actually not responsible for the burning sensation within the muscle after anaerobic training.    These findings were contrary to previous beliefs.  In actual fact, lactic acid is what aids in reducing that burning sensation within muscle cells (or muscle fibres).  The burning sensation is scientifically known as acidosis (since the burn is due to an acidic environment forming).

    So how does it work?  The chemistry is fairly complex and tedious, so let's just stick to the basics:

    1. Your muscles require ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) which is a primary source of energy found within the body.  Without ATP, your muscles would not work at all!

    2. When you initiate a contraction of a muscle cell (or muscle fibre), the energy for this is derived from splitting ATP into ADP (adenosine di-phosphate) plus Pi (inorganic phosphate) through hyrolisation.  This process results in the accumulation of H+ ions.

    3. The accumulation of H+ ions creates an acidic environment which is responsible for the "burn" sensation experienced particularly with anaerobic exercise.  Eventually the H+ ions will accumulate to the point where the environment is so acidic, the muscle will fail to work.  This can be one reason why you may experience muscular failure during resistance training.  This is a safety mechanism the body employs to prevent overloading the muscles to the point of injury.

    4. A molecule called pyruvate acts as a "buffer" that comes and cleans up H+ ions within the muscle fibre.  Pyruvate binds with 2 of the H+ ions to form lactate.  This process neutralises the environment and allows muscle function to return to normal.

    As a result, lactate (or lactic acid) is not directly responsible for acidosis.

    You can improve the efficiency of this process by training at a high intensity for short periods of time (either steady-state or interval training).  The more efficient your muscles are at dispelling acidic build-up, the more efficient they will work when placed under overload from exercise.

    Lactic acid is also not responsible for DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).  DOMS occurs due to microscopic muscle damage as a result of exercise - not from the build-up of the lactic acid that helps to reduce the acidity of muscle cells.

  • I have been exercising for 3 days and I am so sore!

    Yeah it's the down-side of beginning an exercise program.  This soreness is what is known as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).  Your muscles just aren't used to the new workload...and no doubt you're discovering muscles you never knew you had.

    Getting out of bed may be tough, but you will probably find that your muscles will hurt much less when you begin moving. Warming up on the weights circuit will probably be the sorest part of the workout.

    You will eventually get used to using your muscles. As a result your body will adapt to the physical demands and you won't hurt as much. You've already completed a couple of days and your body is already starting to adapt. So, the hardest part is probably over, it becomes much less painful from now on as every day passes.

    Now as crazy as this may sound, try to think of the soreness as recognition of the effort you have invested into your exercise programme. Already your body is responding to the new exercise regime. If you continue to force your body to adapt to increased levels of work over the coming weeks, imagine the physical changes you will experience.

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