Help, my whole body aches! – Recovery tips post-exercise to deal with DOMS.
So, you’ve started training again after some time off? Are a newcomer to
exercise and your whole body feels like it’s falling apart? Fear not, more than likely you have not done any serious damage and your daily activities will become easy again.
What you are going through is called DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness. DOMS can take us by surprise as during our workout we feel great and immediately after only a little tired…. then BANG, you wake up the next day and you start to question how on earth you are going to get out of bed, let alone get through the day. “It’ll be fine tomorrow” you tell yourself only to find that this muscle soreness is not only not improving it is in fact getting worse.
What is DOMS?
DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. This occurs due to little micro tears as a result of exercise, usually because the muscle is doing something it isn’t used to. Normally DOMS will peak 48 hours after your workout. It is worse when you exercise your legs (squats, deadlifts, leg press). This is normal and is important for the muscle to change and adapt. When exercising, muscular changes occur through remodelling of the tissue e.g. micro tears followed by a repair of the tissue. Once your muscles adapt to your training, you should notice less muscle soreness. DOMS is a muscle soreness and can be felt deep in the tissue. If you experience extreme bouts of pain, sharp pain or shooting pain, we would recommend for you to seek advice from a physiotherapist or doctor.
So, DOMS is normal, you haven’t done any serious damage to your muscle tissue… but how are you going to get through this next week without completely giving up on your new year’s resolution?!
Recovery exercise is extremely important in keeping your muscles in optimal health and can significantly decrease the symptoms associated with DOMS, in other words, you don’t need to suffer! Here are some tips on keeping the pain away and keeping your body primed for your future workouts.
Self-massage with a ball or foam roller
Yes, those blue cylinders you see people in the gym rolling around on. Foam rollers are a fantastic tool to aid your recovery. At first, they are going to feel awkward, painful and you may think “why am I doing this to myself”. The sooner your grow to love your foam roller though, the sooner you are going to feel better and thrive with your exercise regime.
Foam rolling aims to release tight muscles, allowing the muscles to relax and begin to lengthen back. Through deep pressure, the muscles can rid themselves of chemicals that increase your soreness and allow nutrients to enter the musculature. Self-massage is very useful at getting to areas that are more difficult to stretch in the conventional way e.g. spinal extensors, lateral thigh.
Getting an introduction from a physiotherapist on how to use a foam roller and techniques on releasing muscles would ensure you are not causing any harm and achieving the required outcome.
Self-massage is a great tool to keep you going and gives you responsibility over your own body. Unfortunately, there comes a time where you just can’t get to every little spot that is bothering you and seeking a professional for assistance is required. Physiotherapists are well trained in assessing body movement and identifying areas of dysfunction. Through various massage and muscle releasing techniques they can have you up and back on your feet in no time.
Those trained in massage therapy can manipulate the muscular system in a way that both lengthens and relaxes the body. By increasing the blood circulation to the tissue, the muscle can replace essential nutrients to promote healing.
Stretching is important not only after exercise but should be a part of a
daily routine for everyone. Daily stretching is beneficial to keep all your joints working at their best and can help prevent joint dysfunction which can lead to pain.
After exercise, the muscles have been working harder than normal and begin to have tension built up in the tissue. This leaves you feeling tight, sore and unable to move your body how you would like to. Stretching actively pulls the muscle back to where it should be and, through a prolonged lengthening of the tissue, allows it to relax.
Ideally, stretching works best immediately after a massage/foam rolling session. Think of the self-release strategies as preparing your muscles by helping the muscles relax. Once they are relaxed, do your stretches to gain back any range of motion that was lost due to the built-up tension.
Ice or heat?
When to heat and when to ice? There is much debate about heat, ice and when should you use it. Heat can help with overactive muscles that are having trouble relaxing, as well as joint stiffness. Immediately post-exercise there is often an inflammation process which is occurring and heat is likely to increase the blood flow à create more inflammation à slower recovery. For post-exercise soreness or DOMS, ice has been shown to decrease inflammation and muscle soreness. Which, in turn, provides better outcomes to athletes.
Low intensity cardio
When suffering from DOMS, often the next day feels like a struggle and laying on couch or in bed seems like the best idea EVER! However, more than likely, this is delaying the issue and allowing your soreness to prolong its stay. Going for a light walk or for gentle cycling will allow your muscles to release some of the built up lactic acid, which is likely the main cause of your muscle soreness. Your muscles will also feel a gentle stretch and you’ll be thanking yourself after, as you should feel much better.
Recovery is a multi-pronged approach and these strategies will keep you motivated and enjoying your exercise regime. If muscle soreness persists for longer than a week, seek professional advice from a physiotherapist.
If you suffer muscle aches & pains after exercise? It could be DOMS. Pivotal Motion can help you in the Newmarket Windsor, Ashgrove, Red Hill, Kelvin Grove, Wilston & Herston area. Call us today 07 3352 5116 or book online.