Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a combination of micro-tears in the muscle and the body’s attempt to repair it. It usually results from excessive weight or repetition in the eccentric phase of exercise. In other words, lowering weights or stopping the momentum of the body (like putting on the brakes).
When training is over, white blood cells must “eat up” the dead muscle cells to dispose of them. Other peptides are released to instruct surrounding cells to build new cells and repair the basic infrastructure. Similarly, the battlefield casualties must be removed and tended to while reinforcements are sent in. Therefore, DOMS can result from insufficient clean up, poor re-building resources, or some of each in combination.
That being said, here’s my checklist if you’re facing DOMS on a repeated basis:
- Speaking with your coach/trainer is imperative regarding changing your program. It would be wise to reduce frequency, intensity, and duration temporarily. After DOMS reduces in frequency and duration, these elements may be re-introduced.
- Ensure proper hydration by drinking adequate water before, during, and after the training session.
- Light massage (Swedish) which emphasizes lymphatic drainage (NOT deep tissue) is instrumental toward removing detrimental metabolites and cellular debris. Tender is good, but anything more painful is not.
- One should do light stretching and true aerobic exercise within the proper heart rate (180-age =max, 170-age = min). This should be the foundation for any training program. It is important to maintain this rate 30-40 min, 2-3x/week. This will also work out painful metabolites and cellular debris.
- Processes which take out debris need support. This can be accomplished using proteolytic enzymes like bromelain and papain. Take these on an empty stomach.
- Protein consumption is extremely important. Eat 1-2 grams per pound of body weight.
- Aid re-building efforts with vitamins A, C, E, and Zinc.
- Excessive swelling or fever require a doctor’s evaluation
For the occasional “pulled muscle” I recommend topical application of Arnica Montana. In bad cases, Salicylic acid (aspirin) can help ease pain and inflammation. You may also consider calcium, magnesium, and valerian to ease muscle tension. If the problem persists, consult with a professional.