Yes summer has snuck up on us again and if you’re anything like me one day of blue sky is usually enough to kick start an exercise regime that has slowly deteriorated through the winter. Whether it’s digging out the trainers for a run or increasing your weights at pump class, you definitely know when you’ve upped the ante when you find yourself unable to get down the front stairs the next day!
The discomfort that reminds us where our muscles are is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. It usually materializes about 24 hours after exercise and can last up to 2 days.
As it is such a common phenomenon DOMS has been extensively studied. It used to be thought that the pain and stiffness was caused by a build-up of lactate acid however further research showed that the lactate levels actually go back down as quick as 20-40mins post exercise. More recently it has been suggested the soreness is actually due to the trauma in the muscle causing tiny micro tears in the fibres which triggers an inflammatory response and thus pain and stiffness.
It’s quite nice to note that even elite athletes can suffer from DOMS after doing new types of exercise and eccentric exercise (such as running downhill) seems to be the main culprit.
Unfortunately an antidote for DOMS has yet to be identified. Contrast baths, ice, massage and stretching are just some of the things that have been tried and tested but the only thing has shown significant results in studies is warming up before exercise.
The other obvious answer is to smart training…as your muscles become more accustomed to the exercise the less pain you will feel as the body recovers and rebuilds. So by the end of summer as well as those hills looking like less of a mountain you’ll also been bouncing out of bed in the morning…until you decide to try a step class that is.