Soreness: Why, When, & What to do
As we turn our calendars to July, we find ourselves in the middle of summer. A time when many lose sight of their goals. But here at Worthy, we have goals and are aggressively motivated to achieve them. That means increasing muscle size and tendon strength with our hypertrophy program while honing technique and skills—personal bests happen where skill meets strength.
New programming means a new form of muscle stimulation, and that probably means a little soreness. After a great day of training you head home triumphantly, but when you wake up…legs! oh, the legs hurt! Experienced athletes are quite familiar with the scenario, and many don’t mind waking up with an aversion to taking the stairs. If you’re a new athlete, don’t worry soreness is normal.
The equation for growth and strength has many variables—particularly important for this discussion is muscle damage. As we train, our muscles undergo stress, causing microscopic tears to the muscle fibers. Our body’s react by repairing these tears, and the result is a larger, stronger muscle fiber.
The result may also be some discomfort. Again, this type of soreness is normal, and it is not injury. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is strongest roughly 36 hours after training, so you can expect to be sore for a couple days post workout. The exact biological process of DOMS is not fully understood, but here are a few tips that have been shown to improve your level of soreness:
- Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet of REAL Food—The benefits of food go beyond raw energy. Whole foods carry a vibrant balance of micro- and macronutrients your body needs to rebuild, along with benefits science has yet to explain. If the ingredient list is longer than 5 items, it’s probably not what you want.
- Along with eating well, staying adequately hydrated should be top on everyone’s list. Water is used in literally EVERY SINGLE BODILY FUNCTION. Notice the boldness, it is that important. Performance, recovery, mood and health will show signs of decline with as little as 2% of your bodyweight is lost via fluid loss. Remember, if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
- Warm-Up and Cool-Down—A proper warm-up and cool-down routine is standard procedure for every athlete. Warming up prepares your muscles for motion and intensity, preventing injury. After an intense workout, your body is still swimming with the byproducts of exertion (ever feel like you suddenly have giraffe legs?). Cooling down helps flush your system of these byproducts to prevent unnecessary soreness.
- Allow for Recovery— Every day isn’t max intensity day—for a reason. DOMS, unlike injury, improves with light activity. Thursdays and Sundays at Worthy are recovery days, and they’re just as important as heavy lifting days or intense workout days. For more information on active recovery, lookup the November posting “The Importance of Active Recovery” by coach Jared Bradford.
- Communicate with Coaches—Talking honestly with your coaches about how your body is feeling allows them to better understand your situation and give more direct advice on how to reduce or prevent your soreness. As a coach, knowing where and when an athlete is feeling discomfort helps me pinpoint a cause and offer a possible remedy. This also sheds light on signs of potential injury, should one ever arise.
Remember, Soreness is a normal part of training, and its perfectly ok to be sore. DOM soreness is most intense in the couple days that follow training. Having the diligence to eat well, stay hydrated, warm-up/cool-down, and embrace recovery days can drastically reduce how sore you are. Finally, communicating with your coaches is key. Their eyes recognize how you’re moving, but you can tell them best how you’re feeling. ”