Fighting DOMS!

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by JayCam, Oct 15, 2007.

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  1. I feel that the main thing holding me back in my training right now is our old friend DOMS. An intense workout can often leave me aching for 2 days afterwards which can often mean I only manage to fit in 2 really decent training days a week with "maintainence" bike rides or jogs in between.

    Question 1: Is it "safe" to do a workout if suffering from DOMS? Generally after a 10 minute warmup the aches are gone but I feel really sluggish and heavy so I am assuming I am risking injury by doing a hard workout while aching? Correct or should I just go for it?

    Question 2: Any way to reduce DOMS? I would love to be training every day (britmilfit 3 times a week with runs in between and rest day on Sunday) but it doesnt feel like its a good idea at present. Will DOMS be less persistant as I get fitter/accostomed to hard exercise?


  2. Sarastro

    Sarastro LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Welcome to my life. It is hard to say whether it is 'safe' without actually being you, a lot of this is down to the level etc of ache & your personal fitness / flexibility.

    The rough science is that putting your muscles under strain by continual flexing causes them to tighten up. This happens on an exponential curve; extreme & immediate stress (ie a bike accident which flexes the muscle to its limit) will cause severe contraction of the muscle over the next 24 hours or so (ie waking up the next day with whiplash). Similarly, if you haven't been running for weeks, and you go do a hard hill-sprint session, this can stress it enough to moderately injure the muscle.

    On the other end of the curve, everyday minor stress (ie through training hard) will mean the muscle consistently contracts as it recovers. The muscle becomes increasingly tight, and you lose flexibility / flex range of that muscle. If you let this continue, the minor stress in your everyday exercise becomes increasingly major (as you are still flexing it the same amount, but the muscle length is shorter & the muscle less flexible). Thus, the minor stress of a normal run can cause a 'pull' and injure the muscle.

    Hope that was somewhat comprehensible.

    The point is; safe is relative. If you stretch well and maintain the length & flexibility of your muscles, you will be unlikely to injure yourself even if you exercise often and hard. If you don't stretch at all and have bad flexibility, even a short, easy run can cause an injury.

    So the trick is:

    1) Stretch seriously, both dynamic stretches warming up, and proper stretches afterwards (for example, BritMilFit, though they take stretching seriously & do thorough warmups, often don't have time to do a proper stretch session at the end, so do it yourself; or, stretch for 10 minutes after you have a hot bath/shower, as this relaxes the muscles).

    2) Be aware of changes in muscle range / flexibility. If you notice you are losing flexibility in a particular muscle over time, you need to stretch it more, and question whether you are overusing that muscle.

    3) When you identify a consistent problem or serious 'twinge', stop training, rest and treat. This results in less days lost than continuing until you get an injury.

    Being sore and fatigued alone (seriously, welcome to my life) will not injure you. I'm spending plenty of time like this at the moment & am fine, I spent periods over the last year cycling 10 hours a day and also doing mil phys training every day. I was exhausted, sometimes overtrained, but did not get injured. Neglecting stretching / flexibility; ignoring warning signs while training like muscle twinges; refusing to take some time off if you feel persistent muscle twinges - these things will get you injured. Conversely, be honest with yourself: don't stop the hill sprints because they are hard just because you felt one small twinge in your elbow earlier that day.

    A better question is whether training 6 days a week is going to de facto get you fitter than training 4-5 days a week. Most people, from fatigue, will simply work less hard for 6 sessions and get less rest, instead of working flat out for 4 and getting plenty of rest time to recover. Personally, I tend to overtrain & work with the fatigue. I have also noticed that I barely lose fitness on even a long break from training (6 weeks or so), and actually perform much better for it shortly afterwards; ie when I haven't been training and should be the most unfit. This gain slows down to a crawl as I get back into a 6 day routine. Thus I might well benefit from getting more rest, and doing less training. But it's a hard habit to break...

    Others can weigh in on the fatigue question, I'm not the best example. Just wanted to give you an outline of your muscle strain question.
  3. i may be wrong, but arent aching muscles and DOMS arent neccesariy the same.

    i also thought DOMS was more assosciated with hill running and weight training then running.

    that aside, as sarastro said, its very much personal as to how safe it is.

    muscles make up only part of your biomechanical parts, and bones, tendons and such can also be injured.
    if your body as a whole is used to the level of exercise your doing, running for two or three days in a row is unlikely to do anything serious.

    regarding the benefit as sarastro said, yes its probably true people do 6 days of less intesity than they would in only 4.

    however, i think that by doing exercise on tired legs you can help your body change and adapt to exercise over many days.

    if you run twice a week, your bones and tendons will be hard and strong enough to run twice a week, maybe 3 times for a while.
    then when you hit basic and you run 5 times a week, theres a good chance you'll get injured.

    also i think, that the CV system is probably the major aim for people who run 6 days a week. working your CV system hard can be done whether your tired or not. if your tired your heart is higher quicker and so on.
    anybody who does run frequently will know if you havent had anything to eat or are knackered, a 2 mile run can feel like god just reached into your chest and punched you in the lungs.

    obviously motivation is an issue, if you cant make yourself suffer training 3 days a week isnt going to be productive and neither is 7 days a week.

    going on a limb here, i bet sarastro (and me) and people who train for 5-6 days a week dont do so purely from a physical perspective.

    iv had shin splints a twice, because i would run on rest days and such.
    running is more like a hobby then an exercise, and i get the urge to run if i dont.

    now whether i could train more productively is debateable, but training in a fairly good way, that you enjoy will be better in the long term, as i could keep motivated for years at a time instead of for a few months and getting bored.

  4. Two words for you: ICE BATH!

    The lactic acid and other waste products from a hard session in your legs, if not properly drained away can cause you to feel 'heavy' and tired. Ice baths speed up the natural recovery process by quickly constricting the blood vessels, thereby making the old blood drain out of the legs. When you get out of the bath and into a normal temp environment, 'fresh' blood i.e loaded with oxygen rather than waste products will make it's way down into the re-expanding vessels.

    I know that's a rather simplistic explanation, but ice baths are used the world over to keep fresh after hard sessions, and to avoid injury to those who train hard frequently.

    You can easily do it at home in the bath. If you've never done ice baths before just start off with cold water. Stay in there for 5 mins, gradually building up to 10mins, and adding ice to drop the temp as you become more used to it.

    The other option is compression tights - however with the shrivelled manhood after an ice bath wearing uber tight leggings may not be the most attractive sight!! :-D
  5. Thanks for all the replies. Sarastro, you really are a fountain of knowledge!

    Ice baths are out of the question as I don't have a bath!

    You guys raised a good point regarding whether training 6 days a week is a good day at all. I will rethink my approach to this fitness thing.

  6. I rest once every 9 days, dont affect me. Its all about your work capacity.
  7. yes and no.

    intesity of training is a big factor. you cannot run yourself to the limit for 9 days without injury.

    if you plod along at a fairly comfortable pace, maybe even do some fartlek you can do several days, but doing 'best effort' cant be maintained for successive runs. even proffesional marathon runners will take two rest days a week.

    also, it depends how you class rest. doing a run one day, weights and circuit the next, then swimming then running again is 4 days of exercise with no 'rest', but actually you are alternating muscle groups and so your running muscles rest while you swim and so forth.

    i believe even an adruous course like p-coy has a weekend break in the middle.