DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is a common condition that occurs after intense physical activity. While it is not entirely possible to prevent DOMS completely, there are some things you can do to minimize the intensity and duration of the soreness.
Warm-up and cool down:
Before and after your workout, spend some time doing a light warm-up and cool down. This helps to prepare your muscles for exercise and prevents injury. Dynamic stretching can help to increase blood flow to your muscles and gradually increase your heart rate. Some stretches that are great to implement are cherry pickers, walking quad stretch, arm swings, straight leg kicks, and butt kicks.
Gradually increase intensity:
If you are new to exercising or changing your routine, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. This allows your muscles to adapt and reduces the likelihood of injury and soreness. This gradual increase allows increased blood flow to your muscles and in turn a gradual increase of your heart rate and breathing frequency.
Stretching after your workout can help to relieve tension in your muscles and reduce soreness. Make sure to hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds to get the full benefits. Static stretching refers to steady or static holds of positions that elongate or “stretch” the muscle. Some examples of static stretches are the figure four stretch, tricep overhead stretch, runners stretch, calf stretch, and the chest doorway stretch.
Drinking enough water before, during, and after exercise helps to prevent dehydration, which can contribute to muscle soreness. You can estimate how much water your body needs by dividing your body weight in pounds by half. The number you get is the number of ounces of water you can aim for throughout the day. This estimate varies based on climate, exercise intensity, and other factors.
Rest and recover:
Allow your body enough time to rest and recover after a workout. This helps to prevent overuse injuries and allows your muscles to repair and grow stronger. It’s not always beneficial to push yourself to complete a work out if you’re exhausted or feeling not your best. It’s important to listen to your body and take rest days when you feel depleted. Keep in mind you’re on this path for the long game, so missing a workout here and there will not diminish your gains. Rest days are just as important for recovery and muscle growth as the workouts are.
Eat a balanced diet and consider supplements:
The most effective way to beat soreness is to plan ahead with your meal prep. It is imperative to refuel your body after a workout with a balanced meal including protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Your muscles crave readily available calories (in the form of glucose) to restore the energy used during a workout session. You cannot expect to see improvements in performance or physique without adequately fueling your body.
Certain supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and creatine have been shown to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation. Also a simple protein shake does wonders to supplement your daily protein intake.
Remember, while DOMS can be uncomfortable, it is a normal part of the muscle-building process. By taking steps to prevent and manage DOMS, you can continue to exercise and build strength without too much discomfort.