Muscle aches (DOMS)

We all hit the gym wanting to build some muscles, but what is the best way of doing so? How do we know we’ve gone too far? We’ve all been gung-ho and hit legs day with much enthusiasm only to be crab walking everywhere the next day. Here are some fact to make sure you make the most out of your workout!

  1. Does my muscles have to ache for my workout to have been effective?

Soreness from a workout is NOT always a sign of a good workout. Muscle soreness resulting from a workout is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Typically DOMs takes 24 – 48 hours to develop and peaks between 24 – 72 hours post exercise.

Just because you don’t feel muscle soreness as intensely as when you first began doesn’t mean a workout is not benefiting you. It likely means your body has improved and it adapts very rapidly to whatever challenges you present it with.

A better way to track your workout effectiveness:

  • One-rep max
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Body Measurements

2. Does warm-up or cool-down, reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness?

Both helps with your athletic performance – warm up prevents injuries while a cool down clears out lactic acid speeding up your body’s recovery. A warm-up and a cool-down both involve doing exercises at a lower intensity and slower pace.

Warming up before exercise prepares your cardiovascular system for physical activity, by increasing the blood flow to your muscles, and raising the temperature of your body. It also helps to lower the risk of getting injured — when your muscles are adequately warmed up, the movements, stretches, and strain you put on them during your workout is less severe. This also minimizes muscle soreness.

Cooling down after your workout aims to gradually bring your heart rate and blood pressure to its normal level. During your workout, your heart rate has been pumping much higher than it does normally, and it’s important to ease it back down instead of abruptly stopping all motion.

3. How long should muscle aches last?

Typically DOMs takes 24 – 48 hours to develop and peaks between 24 – 72 hours post exercise. Any significant muscle soreness lasting longer than 5 days could be a sign of significant muscle damage beyond what is beneficial.

If the pain you’re experiencing prevents you from carrying out daily activities associated with living or working, then the exercise was too much. If the discomfort lasts for more than 72 hours, then the exercise was too much.

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