If you’ve ever started a new type of physical activity or pushed yourself harder than usual, you probably experienced DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness).
It’s the unpleasant feeling after a workout where the muscles you recently trained feel sore, weak, and sometimes painful.
Walking up a flight of stairs feels like a fitness challenge, and putting on a shirt takes a solid two minutes.
What Is Soreness and Why Does it Occur?
As you train, your muscles begin to produce lactic acid, which slowly builds up more and more. The longer and more demanding a workout is, the more lactic acid that builds up.
This leads to the unpleasant feeling of soreness we all know.
Two more elements of muscle soreness are the metabolic damage and micro-tears we cause our muscles through strenuous physical activity.
Thanks to these factors, the result is an inflammatory-repair response which peaks at 24 to 48 hours after exercise and usually goes away within a few days. Again, depending on the difficulty of the workout and the following disruptions.
How to Deal With Soreness
As we discussed above, two elements of muscle soreness are metabolic damage and micro-tears. We can’t do much about them except to give the body enough time to repair itself.
However, the lactic acid build-up is something we can influence.
It’s been well-documented that moderate physical activity after a hard workout helps with soreness. There are a couple of reasons for that:
First, moderate activity allows for lactic acid to dissipate quicker. Second, the physical activity allows for oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to enter the muscles, which kickstarts and accelerates the recovery process.
After a demanding squat session, it’s much better to do more walking than to sit on a couch and wait for the soreness to go away.
However, it’s essential to keep in mind that you shouldn’t over-do the activity after a hard workout. It would be best if you still give your muscles time to recover, so piling on too much stress will do more harm than good.