So, you’ve worked out for the first time in years, and the next day you want to jump in front of a train. Your body is beyond sore. Standing, moving, even breathing makes your entire body ache from head to toe. You are experiencing what is called delayed onset muscle soreness. This is the result of lactic acid building up in your muscles, in conjunction with microscopic tears that the muscle endures during exercise. An influx of white blood cells to the muscles after heavy exercise also contributes to inflammation of affected muscles.
Given what we know about DOMS and the microscopic tears in our muscles, it would be a wise decision to NOT workout while experiencing DOMS. Further training will only increase those small tears and potentially cause serious injury.
There is no effective method to completely avoid DOMS. Research does show that massage may have varying effects on DOMS. Rubbing the aching muscles will often ease the pain, however, it may only be temporarily. In addition, some researchers belive Vitamin C intake will help repair the microtears and lead to faster recovery. This suggestion remains controversial however, as large amounts of vitamin C can have harmful effects on the body.
Anyone is susceptible to DOMS. Those who are doing heavy and/or explosive lifting will often feel DOMS to some degree. However, it is often beginners who experience the worst DOMS. Jumping right into a workout routine after being sedentary for some time is a sure-fire way to experience DOMS in all it’s fury. DOMS isn’t necessarily bad; it’s not a bad pain. Don’t feel like you HAVE to avoid it. Just know that you may be quite unpleasant for 2-4 days after your training.
As our bodies become more conditioned, DOMS becomes less and less of a nuisance. There will come a time when you are desperate to experience DOMS. It can be a good indicator that you gave your muscles a new challenge, after many months of training. Personally, I welcome DOMS after a good, hard workout. Sure it hurts for a while, but it’s a good pain, that you know was the result of you strengthening your body. And hey, it gives you an excuse to ask for massages.
In addition, stretching is a great way to help alleviate DOMS before it happens. Stretch immediately after a strenuous workout to lessen the effects of DOMS. Remember, there is no eliminating DOMS, just lessening it.