Personally, I love the feeling of muscle soreness I experience the day after a heavy training session. It lets me know that I targeted those muscles precisely and challenged them to grow. When we engage in an exercise with increased duration and/or intensity or when we employ new movements that are unfamiliar to our bodies, DOMS sets in. DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and its symptoms include muscle discomfort, fatigue and decreased flexibility which occurs between 24-72 hours following an intense workout. DOMS is caused, specifically, by eccentric muscle actions. An eccentric contraction occurs when the muscle is trying to shorten but is being forced to lengthen. Releasing your forearm back downward following a bicep curl is an example of an eccentric movement. Contrary to popular belief, delayed onset muscle soreness is not the result of lactic acid buildup, which subsides within 60 minutes. It is the microtrauma to the muscle created by exercise that causes DOMS and ultimately those microscopic tears make the muscles rebuild even stronger.
To relieve the symptoms of DOMS try RICE which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. In addition, OTC anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen will decrease the swelling and pain. Stretching during your warm-up and cool-down as well as massage are other effective methods in combating the inflammation and discomfort associated with DOMS. Yet, my motto is: if it hurts, it worked. The next time you experience DOMS, smile through the pain because your workout challenged your muscles to transform. Job well done!