If you've done CrossFit for any period of time you have probably woken up after a tough workout feeling like your muscles have been replaced by worn rubber. You walk around like a mummy and even just bending over to tie your shoes brings pure agony. We've all been there.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
These symptoms have been named Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and are actually common in new athletes. Anytime we significantly increase physical stress to our body or add a new type of stress our body responds like this.
What Causes DOMS?
Anytime a muscle contracts while it is lengthened (called eccentric contraction) the muscle has potential for micro tears. This mechanical damage is thought to be the cause of DOMS.
Beginners are much more likely to feel these effects since their muscles are not adapted to these movements. The body rapidly responds to DOMS and within a few weeks the associated soreness is decreased significantly.
How Do I Stop The Pain?
The best medicine is actually "the hair of the dog." Moderate exercise, although painful at first, reduces the perceived soreness after it is initiated. Any activity that increase blood flow to the area will help.
Other less effective remedies include heat and cold compresses and massaging the affected area.
Is there any way to prevent it?
The best way to reduce this soreness is to gradually increase stress during an exercise program. Rapidly increase volume or intensity during a program is not wise. Movements that are related to eccentric muscle contractions, such as GHD sit ups, should be eased into to avoid DOMS.
Having excellent mobility and range of motion during movements can help prevent DOMS. It should be warned that static stretching immediately before a tough workout will not prevent DOMS and over stretching may increase muscle damage.
The Take Away
DOMS is that soreness that you feel 24-72 hours after exercise. Although painful it does not mean your injured, just that your muscles are adapting. These symptoms will lessen significantly within about 2 weeks of regular exercise. The best preventative measures are to regularly practice full range of motion movements and to continually work on mobility.