DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: What Is DOMS & How Can It Be Managed? Science, Strategies, Supplements
|Whether the text on this photo is actually true or not will be discussed in part II of this series, for now we are going to restrict ourselves to an analysis of the underlying reasons of DOMS and means to prevent that the pain becomes unbearable.|
If you train regularly I’m sure you’re well aware of it, especially the morning following a heavy training session. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the sensation experienced upon waking the next morning and lasting upwards of 72 hours after a heavy exercise session.
It is most commonly brought about through unaccustomed eccentric muscle action causing a disruption of connective and/or contractile tissue (Cheung. 2003). It is not a singular mechanism but rather a result of several mechanisms beginning with microtrauma followed by an inflammatory response (Lewis. 2012).
Does DOMS influence exercise performance?
Although DOMS may make you rethink taking the stairs the next day, its effect on exercise is minimal. This assumes, of course, that you aren’t training the same muscles the very next day. It’s been shown that DOMS impairs force output for up to 24 hours following exercise and even alters the agonist-antagonist muscle activity through reducing motor unit discharge rates (Vila-Chã, Hassanlouei, Farina, & Falla, 2012).
A word of caution: The regular use of NSAIDs as a means to counter delayed onset muscle damage is not a sustainable strategy for any athlete who cares about the health of his intestinal tract and liver. So you better make sure to stick to occasional use, only.The latter could be attributed to a self-protection mechanism to prevent further damage, as DOMS has also been shown to alter walking and running biomechanics (Paschalis, et al., 2007). But like I said, this only matters if you are training the same muscles the very next day. Assuming you have a rest day or are on some form of a split-routine, DOMS is not a contributor to perceived exertion (Haddad, et al., 2013).
What can be done to prevent or diminish DOMS?
Numerous treatment strategies have been investigated to help alleviate DOMS and restore maximal function to the muscles (Cheung, Hume, & Maxwell, 2003).
Figure 1: Disruption, inhibition, proteolysis and inflammation - these are the tree main phases trough which you will be going after a hard workout. The "thing" that hurts, though, is the inflammation in step three - the "onset" part in "DOMS" ;-)
- Warm water immersion (Hassan, 2011) but not cryotherapy (Howatson & Van Someren, 2003) has also demonstrated alleviating effects in the majority of respective trials.
- Similarly, massage has shown varying success that is probably attributable to the type and timing of the massage. Stretching, which is also recommended as a means to prevent or even counter DOMS, on the other hand, has no science to support its effectiveness as an effective DOMS killer (Torres. 2012).
What about foods, nutrients and supplements?
|Suggested Read: "Pre-regeneration with a warm bath!?" | read more|
The reductions in muscle soreness are more than likely do to the high-quality protein of the milk rather than the carbohydrates or fats (Flakoll, Judy, Flinn, Carr, & Flinn, 2004). One study using BCAAs found that about 5g taken before a high volume squat exercise had significantly reduced levels of DOMS and preservation of power output 48 hours post-exercise compared to an isocaloric carbohydrate placebo (Shimomura, et al., 2006). Five grams of BCAAs is the equivalent of just under 700mL – three cups – of milk, which just so happens to be the amount used in another study that found chocolate milk to reduce DOMS more so than an isocaloric carbohydrate drink (Gilson, et al., 2010). And if you aren’t a fan of milk, all this is about 20 to 25 grams of milk protein around training sessions.
More specific supplements
|While it may help with DOMS, n-acetyl-cystein (NAC) is also one of the likely candidates that could theoertically blunt the exercise induced inflammation to a degree that would actually hamper the adaptive processes that's at the heart of strength, mass and performance gains (read more & learn about hormesis)|
- 1,800mg of the antioxidants EGCG and N-acetyl-cysteine taken pre-exercise were associated with less muscle soreness the next day (Kerksick. 2010),;
- 2g of L-carnitine L-tartrate daily (Volek. 2002), and
- 8g of citrulline malate prior to training (Pérez-Guisado. 2010)
|Part I||Part II|
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