Muscle pain that shows up a day or two after exercising – known as Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness or DOMS – can affect anyone, regardless of their fitness level. This type of stiffness or achiness is normal, it doesn’t last long and is a sign of your improving fitness. DOMS is caused by inflammation stemming from microscopic tears between your muscles and surrounding tissues. This often occurs when you start a new exercise program, change your exercise program in some way or after resuming exercise after a period of inactivity. Eccentric contractions, the movements that cause your muscles to lengthen under tension eg the downward motion of squats and push ups, seem to cause the most soreness. These damaged muscles release chemical irritants that trigger mild inflammation which awakens your pain receptors giving you that sore sensation. Post workout soreness is a normal response to exertion and part of an adaptive physiological process that leads to increased strength and stamina.
Anyone can develop DOMS, even those who have exercised for years, including elite athletes. DOMS can come as a shock for people who are new to exercise and it may dent their initial enthusiasm to get fit. The good news is that the pain decreases as your muscles get used to the new physical demands being placed on them. Unless you push yourself hard, you’re unlikely to develop DOMS after your next exercise session. DOMS is a type of muscle conditioning, which means your muscles are adapting to the new activity. The next time you perform the same activity, or exercise at the same intensity, there will be less muscle tissue damage, less soreness and a faster recovery.
Approaches to assist muscle soreness:
Train smart and keep balance when stimulating the body to adapt to exercise without over challenging it. Looking after your body will give you longevity with your training and life in general. The soreness is just a part of an adaptation process which will bring you greater strength and stamina as your muscles rebuild.