DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

After a particularly gruelling training session, strange things can happen in the days that follow. Very strange things – if you don’t understand what’s going on. I’m talking about the phenomena of delayed onset muscle soreness.

I remember the first time I experienced it. I’d hit my biceps particularly hard during training, and felt the burn. It went, and I spent the rest of the day feeling good. No pain, no soreness. Even the next day, I was still fine. But the day after – oh boy, I was in agony and could hardly move my arms. In fact, my arms were more pumped up and swollen than they were the day before. What happened?

This is a very sketchy subject, as nobody really knows the definitive answer. The best theory I have come across is that, DOMS (as it’s abbreviated as) tends to happen after excessive negative repetitions (eccentric contractions) causing much more severe damage to the muscle fibres. Forced negatives and extremely slow negatives seem to be the culprit.

As for what physically happens, again, it’s only a theory, but it’s as good as any. What may be happening is, because of the severity of the muscle damage (good muscle damage – I might add) then heightened muscle building is going on; much more so than normal. During this time, the muscle fibres tend to swell up, which causes them to swell inside of the muscle fascia, causing nerve pain and difficulty and discomfort when moving.

As for tackling DOMS – which is not to be confused with lactic acid build up – there seems to be very little one can do about it, but ride it out. After all, building muscle is all about breaking down as much muscle fibre as one can during the time we spend training. I guess we can either break down a little, and suffer a little, and get little results. Or we can break down a lot, suffer a lot, and get a lot of results.

I guess it’s down to you. Can you handle the pain?

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