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Are You Sore Yet?

January 11, 2010

For the many who started a workout routine as part of the New Year, here is my question:

Are You Sore Yet?

If you are, then consider yourselves indoctrinated into the hallowed halls of a Healthier Lifestyle.  Muscle soreness is more readily noticeable for newbies working out, but it can pop up as well whenever you are exercising muscles that have not been involved for awhile.  While there are a lot of explanations about soreness and lactic acid build up, etc., the more credible sources describe your muscle soreness as a sign of victory.  You are victorious because as you workout, your muscles are put under pressure and stress that may cause them to shred at a molecular level.  As the muscle repairs itself to grow stronger, this can cause the pain in addition to your workout.  This can also be called DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, when the muscle hurts more the day after the workout than the day of.  No frets, OK?  You’re doing great.

The key to recovery from DOMS is natural healing.  As your muscles expand during this time, it’s possible the muscle fibers are rubbing against nerves which could cause your pain.  Some will tell you this is inflammation – and to take ibuprofen.  Studies are all over the place, but try to use ibuprofen as a last resort.  Try ice massages, normal massages, stretching or simply letting time take its course.

Why not use ibuprofen?  Well, the goal of weight loss is to build muscle because muscle helps burn fat (directly or indirectly).  According to many studies cited on such sites as LiveStrong and T-Nation, ibuprofen blocks muscle growth.  In other words, taking ibuprofen may assist your soreness, but it also blocks new muscle synthesis (your muscles won’t grow back any larger).  I won’t get into the science of it all, but in laymen’s terms – steer clear of ibuprofen or acetominophen as much as possible.  Instead, use Glutamine, an amino acid which has been studied extensively over the past 10–15 years and has been shown to be useful in treatment of serious illnesses, injury, trauma, etc.

As your workouts continue, your muscles will adapt and you will see less soreness as the workouts continue.  But, should soreness continue, don’t be shy to see your physician.  It never hurts to be proactive if pain continues.  In addition, check your form to ensure the exercise is being performed correctly and is not contributing to your soreness.

As a sidenote, you may notice a temporary weight gain after an intense workout, especially with the legs.  I always find a great workout, especially with my quads, will invariably lead to a temporary weight gain.  I’ve heard this explained as fluid retention due to the inflammation.  This too shall pass, and when your muscle replaces that fat, you’ll have a shapelier body and more functional strength to boot – so no worries!  Until then, keep your intensity levels high and continue reaching for your goals!

If you’ve experienced muscle soreness, what did you use to overcome the short term effects?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 11, 2010 8:40 am

    Foam roller work great for DOMS as well!

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