Posted on 10 November 2017
Your muscles ache. Every uncomfortable move seems to be painful and it gets you telling everyone that you worked out yesterday.
We’ve all been there – we’ve finished our workouts and felt like we could conquer anything, but the next day everything is sore. If this is you, you’re probably experiencing DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness.
While this feeling is somewhat inevitable, especially when you’ve given your workout your all, it can leave you questioning yourself – what is it, why does it happen, is it dangerous and how can you avoid DOMS?
Usually day two is worse, so prepare yourself.
What Is DOMS?
If you’ve ever smashed a session in the gym and left feeling like a king, only to wake up the next day and struggle to get out of bed, you have experienced DOMS, which is caused by a build-up of lactic acid in your muscles. In fact, the majority of us have felt this, and while at the time you can believe that you’ve done some pretty bad damage, DOMS is nothing to be worried about. And let’s face it – it gives us reason to brag about our savage workout.
So why do we experience DOMS? If the gym is supposed to be so good for us, why do we feel so sore for days after?
For your muscles to grow – and let’s be honest, that’s one of the reasons you’re in the gym in the first place – the muscle fibres will tear (ever so slightly) and your body will then repair or replace these damaged muscle fibres, creating muscle hypertrophy and therefore muscle mass.
All sounds a bit technical, right? Basically, your body fills the gap of the tear and thus you see the physical growth of the muscle.
Can You Prevent DOMS?
In short, no. However, in the gym you can be mindful of your own limits and not push yourself too hard. There is a fine line between challenging yourself and going too far.
It’s also important to allow your muscles to rest properly and recover with the proper fuel of a nutritious diet and plenty of water.
Don’t forget to stretch your muscles and properly warm up and cool down to try and reduce any potential muscle soreness.
How Soon Can You Work Out When You’ve Got DOMS?
It’s partly down to how bad the DOMS is and partly common sense, as you know your body better than anyone else.
Usually, this is why workout schedules mix up days, so one day you’ll have leg day and the following day you’ll focus on shoulders and so on; it gives particular muscles groups a rest and a chance to recover before you go hard again.
If you’re still experiencing painful muscle soreness, swelling in your limbs or dark urine, you could be experiencing something else.
What Is Rhabdomyolysis?
Okay, so we don’t want to get all serious, but it is important to know that sometimes – and we do mean in rare cases – muscle injury can cause rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition that occurs after damage to the muscles.
In regular workouts, your muscles experience tiny tears, which help them grow (we covered this in the ‘What Is DOMS?’ section), but with rhabdomyolysis, the tear is too great, so the body can’t quite repair the muscle itself. Not only that, the muscle tissue that tore off in the hope of a new life as a larger muscle can actually enter the blood stream.
This is where the danger happens.
When the muscle breaks down and gets released into the blood stream, it is known as myoglobin. When myoglobin gets into the kidneys, it can cause kidney failure – though that is the extreme end of the scale. Otherwise, you’ll find blood in your urine, as well as feeling sick and lethargic, on top of painful muscle soreness.
This is not a common condition, but it does happen, so take care of yourself and listen to your body – don’t push yourself too far.
If you experience these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Don’t Overdo It at the Gym
We are big believers in challenging yourself in the gym and pushing your boundaries, but if your DOMS feels severe, take a rest day – your body needs it.
Always remember, fitness is supposed to be fun and good for you.
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