It feels good to exercise, sway your hips to some music during the Zumba class or jog around your building after taking up a challenge to lose weight or become healthy. All the positive energy surrounding you lift your determination a notch higher. But after a few hours or a day, every part of the body starts aching, muscles feel sore and even walking down the stairs or brushing your teeth seems to be a strenuous task after lifting weights at the gym. All the determination and challenge seem to crumble down before your eyes as you are unable to even get out of bed the next day! Most individuals would have gone through this experience soon after embarking on their fitness journey. What exactly is the process that happens inside our body when we exercise for the first time or after a long time?
Muscles that Do the Trick
According to any fitness expert muscle soreness/ache that starts after exercising is normal and is a good sign of your improving fitness level. When the body is subjected to any new physical activity the muscles are also subjected to stress and the soreness that comes along is a natural reflection that exists at the start of any new exercise routine. This soreness, ache or discomfort that occurs between 24 and 48 hours after activity is termed as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and is extremely common when an individual starts a new exercise routine, changes the routine or jumps over to a difficult one that involves more repetitions or intensity.
Muscles are used to the way in which individuals utilize them. When there is some deviation from the normal and they are required to work harder it causes microscopic damage to the muscle fibers resulting in muscle soreness/stiffness. Many believe it to be due to the work of lactic acid buildup which is actually untrue.
Don’t Doom the DOMS Effect
While the DOMS effect might perturb the first timers, it is essential to understand that even elite athletes experience it at times. The onset of the effect is an indication that the body is adapting itself to increased stamina and strength and the muscles are recovering. Any action or movement that you are not used to can cause DOMS. It might be as simple as starting to exercise or increasing your workout intensity to extreme levels. It is basically an effect of any exercise that causes the muscles to lengthen when under tension termed technically as ‘eccentric exercise’. This effect decreases as the body adapts to the new physical routine.
There are many speculations and theories surrounding DOMS. Its been said that the forces generated during the eccentric movement damage the muscle structure and connective tissues and causes imbalance of calcium that leads to the soreness. The person might also experience inflammation which triggers the pain nerves within 48 hours of the activity along with swelling as well, both of which cause extreme discomfort to the individual. The soreness is sure to decrease as the muscles get used to it. DOMS can last anywhere between 3 and 5 days starting after a day or 2 after exercise. The main problem with individuals who start exercising for the first time is that once pain starts after the first day or so, they start worrying that they have not done their exercise properly or that they have hurt themselves. Some even feel that its better to stop exercising altogether rather than experiencing more trouble. Its better to be aware of the DOMS effect before starting to exercise as this prepares you mentally. The gym instructor or the fitness coach can also intimate the new member about it.
Soothe Your Muscles the Smooth Way
While no single way has proven to be a 100% cure for treating DOMS, many of the solutions given here are said to be much effective than the rest. It is recommended to choose anything between heat, ice pack, massage, anti-inflammatory medications and rest to reduce pain. While some studies deny the advantages of using ice as a treatment method some studies show that wearing pressure garments after workout, drinking milk protein after workout or using foam-roller massages can help to alleviate pain. To stay on a healthy diet while following your exercise routine get in touch with reputed dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com.
In most cases there is no requirement for medications and the pain subsides gradually with enough rest. Its better to start off with a fitness program gradually in a subtle way such that the muscles are given enough time to adapt to the new movements. At the same time, there are not many evidences that support that warming up before exercising will prevent DOMS from striking. Stretching is helpful in reducing your chance of injury and improving performance.
The initial few days it is better to take things easy as your body is still adapting itself to the changes imposed. There is no harm in exercising with DOMS although you might feel uncomfortable initially, but the aches and pains disappear once your body gets used to this routine. While resting between exercising is allowed it is better to focus your exercises on the less-affected muscles giving time to the other affected muscle groups to heal and become normal.
Having taken up an activity that helps you become healthier, it is better to face the small hurdles that occur in between bravely and continue with your activity.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.