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  • Writer's pictureDoug Joachim

Dominate D.O.M.S – Soreness!

personal trainer nyc

Have you ever been so sore after a workout or training session that you had trouble sitting down or even walking the street?  That kind of extreme soreness is your body’s way of expressing “you did too much”!  For a long time, many people believed this soreness, which is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), was caused by lactic acid build-up.  Not true!  And to my chagrin, I still hear trainers and PT’s spouting the negative effects of lactic acid.  We don't even have lactic acid in the body, it is lactate.

Lactate is a fuel released from the muscle and converted in the liver to glucose, which is then used as an energy source. So rather than cause fatigue or burn it actually helps to delay a lowering of blood glucose concentrations and slows down the rate at which the cells become acidic. 

Delayed onset muscle soreness is the muscle pain we start to get 24-72 hrs after performing a new physical activity and/or over-stressing your neuromuscular system with exercise and/or activities of living.  It is a symptom of muscle damage caused by overloading one’s system.

DOMS is only caused by 2 of our muscle contractions:

1- Eccentric Muscle Contractions – lowering phase of a lift or movement (lengthening of the muscle) 2- Isometric Muscle Contractions-  static phase of a contraction

The lifting part (shortening of the muscle) of the exercise is called a concentric contraction.  This does not cause any soreness.  Not that I am recommending it but it would be a Sisyphean feat to do concentric only workouts.  I believe to get the most out of your workout you should incorporate many differing forms of exercises and contractions (depending on your goals and limitations). There are many exercises that are more likely to cause soreness because the eccentric phase is usually slower i.e Lunges, squats, bench press

Some Myths of Muscle Soreness:

1. Caused by lactic acid buildup. Scientists believe it is caused by inflammation which then produces a ton of metabolic waste which stimulates the nerves innervating the muscle resulting in that burning pain. 

2. Stretching reduces soreness. New studies suggest stretching, whether conducted before, after, or before and after exercise, does not produce important reductions in soreness.

3. Being sore is a sign of progress. You do not need to be sore to make strength and fitness gains!

How to minimize and avoid DOMS:

  1. Getting a good night sleep 7-9 hrs unencumbered by sleeping pills

  2. Some data supports eating fish or supplementing with fish oils

  3. Warming up prior to your workout

  4. Progressing correctly through smart periodization and small steps forward

  5. Drinking water and staying hydrated

  6. Sports massage post-workout

  7. Ibuprofen or aspirin after the workout

Doug Joachim – NYC


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