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Clinical Hypnotherapist, Counsellor,
Life Coach and Meditation

Ouch I’m sore…..


Although people talk about muscle soreness as a whole, there are actually two types of muscle soreness, which are quite distinct from each other. The most familiar type of soreness is the temporary soreness that we experience during and immediately after intense training. This is the fatiguing, burning soreness that you might experience as you try and squeeze out those last 3 or 4 reps on the leg extension machine or as you hit the home straight in a 400m race. Known as acute soreness, it’s caused by an accumulation of lactic acid, which is a by-product of high intensity exercise. The sensations of acute soreness usually subside in one or two minutes after ceasing intense activity and depending on your fitness level, you may be able to repeat the activity shortly afterwards.

The other kind of exercise- related muscle soreness is known as “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness” and because it’s a bit of a mouthful, it’s also known as “DOMS” for short! DOMS is experienced as soreness, stiffness and general discomfort and appears 24-48 hours after exercising, lasting anything up to 10 days. If you have ever suffered from DOMS, you’ll know just how uncomfortable it can be. Knowing that there’s no permanent harm done is little consolation when you can’t even raise your arm enough to slip on a T-shirt 2 days after that upper body workout!

So what if anything can be done to reduce the occurrence and intensity of delayed onset muscle soreness? There is no magic bullet, but the key seems to lie in gradual progression, particularly where eccentric muscle contractions play a major role in your chosen activity. For example, if you’re new to running, you shouldn’t try and bash out a course that involves lots of downhill running, or try and run it quickly.

– Build up your training slowly and progressively, especially those activities that involve eccentric type contractions.
– Try to avoid a sudden increase in intensity
– Take care when introducing new activities or exercises into your routine, or returning to an existing activity after an extended break.
– Warm up thoroughly beforehand – preferably using some concentric type movements.
– Remember that repeating DOMS inducing exercise regularly will afford you significant protection from future soreness!

Finally, if you have over done it, is there anything you can do to help alleviate that post-workout soreness other than wait for it to subside? When it comes to other strategies such as vitamin and mineral supplementation, anti-inflammatory drugs, or ointments and creams, there’s no scientific evidence that they offer any benefits at all. When it comes to DOMS, prevention really is better than cure!

Joe Busuttil – Clinical Hypnotherapist, Counsellor and Life Coach.

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