High training loads or incorporating a new training program can leave you feeling sore.
Following your workout, acute soreness is commonly mistaken for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Acute soreness develops during the workout, while DOMS typically develops hours after your workout and produces the most pain 24 to 48 hours after you performed the exercise. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the causes of DOMS are complex. However, it is well-established that numerous types of physical activity can cause delayed soreness.
The physiological mechanisms thought to cause DOMS are not completely understood. "Fitness: The Complete Guide," by ISSA explains three things are thought to cause DOMS. The spasm hypothesis proposes DOMS is caused by ischemia, resulting in a build up of pain-causing substances in the body. Ischemia results from mechanical obstruction of the blood supply. Second is connective tissue damage that develops due to a disruption in connective tissue. DOMS may also be caused by microtrauma, or minuscule tears, in muscle fibers.
DOMS can be brought on by activities that allow the muscle to lengthen when tension is applied. The lengthening of the muscle while it contracts is known as an eccentric contraction. Examples of movements involving eccentric contractions include the lowering phase of a bicep curl or walking, during which the quadriceps are active following the heel strike as the knee flexes. Activities such as weightlifting, jumping, walking down hills or step aerobics all involve eccentric contractions and thus tend to elicit delayed muscle soreness.
Muscle Soreness Susceptibility
Regardless of anaerobic or aerobic training experience, everyone is susceptible to DOMS. However, as your body continues to adapt to the stress you place on it, the severity of the soreness decreases. In contrast, if you perform an activity you are not accustomed to or increase your training load, there is an increased risk of more severe muscle soreness. As a result, it is best to gradually work your way into a new workout program or slowly increase your training load.
Reducing Muscle Soreness
Unfortunately, no one treatment has proven to prevent DOMS. However, you can reduce symptoms in a variety of ways. Using an ice pack or having a massage may help ease the pain, according to a research article titled, "Effects of Massage On Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, Swelling, and Recovery of Muscle Function." When an ice pack isn't enough, watermelon juice may help reduce DOMS. According to the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry," l-citrulline, an amino acid found in watermelon juice, can help athletes prevent muscle soreness following a hard workout.