I am on day three of the Advocare challenge and so far, so good! I will write a more in depth post on how it is coming tomorrow. Tomorrow is also my weekly weigh in, so we will see if any weight has come off yet! I am sure hoping it has, because I have been up the last few times I weighed but my eating habits have been tremendously better the past few days.
Now, moving on to the topic at hand. I think I mentioned that Best Body Bootcamp started up again this week. On Monday, I completed three rounds of Tina's killer upper body circuit workout for Phase 1. I felt great afterward and only marginally sore yesterday. Then I woke up this morning and BOOM. Man oh man can I feel that workout! Why is that? It's a phenomenon known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
Why does this happen? What exactly is DOMS? According to About Sports Medicine, DOMS describes "muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness that occurs in the day or two after exercise." DOMS most commonly occurs when you change up your exercise routine, whether that be through simply changing your workout, beginning a new exercise program, or vastly increasing the duration or intensity of your current exercise regimen. In my case, I hadn't been doing very much intense strength training for several weeks, so the kick-in-the-butt workout from Tina on Monday night caused the DOMS that I am experiencing today.
Don't mistake DOMS as a bad thing--aside from the fact that some crazy people like me love feeling those sore muscles as a reminder that you pushed yourself, "delayed onset muscle soreness is a normal response to unusual exertion and is part of an adaptation process that leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover." So next time your whole body seems to hurt after a workout, remind yourself that the soreness is actually part of the process your body is undergoing to make you physically stronger.
Maybe you are thinking to yourself--okay, I am fairly new to exercise and I want to start strength training, but I don't want to deal with DOMS. What can I do? While there isn't a known way to prevent DOMS, there are various techniques you can try to help lessen the soreness. I am certainly no doctor, but my best advice is to experiment and find what works for you. A few ideas:
2) Active Recovery. This is probably my favorite method of beating DOMS. Pushing through the soreness to complete a light workout seems to help me loosen up my sore muscles and helps them recover more quickly.
3) Rest and recovery. Sometimes, rest really is the best medicine.
4) Try a sports massage. This obviously isn't practical on a daily or even weekly basis for most of us, but an occasional sports massage (or regular massage for that matter) can do wonders for sore muscles.
5) Ice baths. I haven't been brave enough to try this technique yet, but I know many bloggers that do. I prefer soaking in a hot bath the night after a workout, because mentally at least, it makes my muscles feel better.
6) Gentle stretching or yoga. There are mixed reviews online about the benefits of gentle stretching and yoga to aiding in recovering from muscle soreness. This is definitely one of those tips that may vary from person to person. My recommendation? Give it a try, because you certainly aren't going to harm yourself by doing some extra stretching.
8) Compression. I've written before about the conflicting opinions about the benefit of compression in athletic recovery. I love my compression socks and find that it tends to help me with leg soreness. Now if only I could figure out a way to put my entire body in compression gear!
How do I deal with DOMS? As I said before, usually active recovery is my preferred method of coping. For example, my plan today is to hit the gym after work for another strength session (targeting the lower body today--I am definitely not working my arms again!) and a quick cardio session on the elliptical. Odds are that I'll feel better after the workout! Since one of my goals for bootcamp this week is stretching, I'll end my workout with a good stretch session tonight.
Experiment with some of these techniques and find what works for you. But at the end of the day, remember--sore muscles mean you did something right!
** I consulted the following websites when researching this post. Active.com and AnswerFitness.com.**