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Let's Talk About DOMS, Baby

If you didn't sing the title of this blog, what are you doing?!

DOMS. Let's talk about it!

DOMS is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). What's that mean? Well, you've probably felt it before! You know, a day or two after you workout and you're DYING. It feels weird because you didn't feel sore after the workout or even the next day, but two days later, you're f-ing dead. Did you pull a muscle? Is it normal? Your google search told you it probably was an incurable disease that left you with only a few days left to live. But, will you make it through?

What you're feeling is completely normal! Although, it may imply a few things about your training. We'll get to that later, after we go over exactly what DOMS is.

Essentially, your body wants to stay the same or, in fancy terms, maintain homeostasis. It doesn't want you to lose or gain weight or muscle. When you workout, you're placing stress on your body and impacting that balance. Your body fights to maintain homeostasis and this response to stress is called General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).

There's three stages of GAS.

  1. Alarm Reaction Stage

  2. Resistance Development Stage

  3. Exhaustion

When you first start a new exercise program, your body is SHOOKETH.

your body @ you

You placed alllll different kinds of stress and force on your bones, joints, muscles, connective tissues, and nervous systems. Your body is truly the most creature of habit, creature of habit there ever was, and from the get-go, just wants to adapt to these changes. Because these demands are new, your body is inefficient at responding to these demands.

This is where DOMS comes in and why you feel SORE AF. DOMS is a "typical response to either unaccustomed exercise or a sudden increase in a training program" (NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, 6th ed., pg. 305). So, it's normal for you to be in pain sitting down onto the toilet for a few days after you crush a killer leg workout. Totally, completely, normal.

However, if you gradually increase the intensity, frequency, time, duration, and volume of your workouts, you can minimize this alarm reaction. Layman's terms: just don't do too much, too soon. Push yourself, but make sure you're doing it slowly, over time. This way your body can get over itself and adapt.

I wanted to make a list of things you can do to help make DOMS better, but this isn't a health blog that provides some BS, not backed by science advice. Being proactive, rather than retroactive is your best bet. Progressive overload will help you. I'm not going to go into that in this post, but will in the future. This post is already too long.

Are you still here and wishing I gave you some advice for what to do when DOMS hits?! Here ya go:

  • epsom salt bath

  • foam roll

  • stretch

  • tiger balm

  • take a rest day or work a different muscle group

MOST IMPORTANTLY: look back on your training plan. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Did I properly warm-up and cool-down?

  2. Did I jump into something too fast, too soon?

  3. Did I add too much weight?

  4. Was I trying to keep up with someone else in class?

  5. Was I paying attention to my limits during the workout?

Maybe though, you just started a new workout regime and it's going to take your body a little bit to adapt. There's so many variables. This is why you need to pay attention to your body and the cues it gives you!

I'm not going to sit here and preach to you though about completely avoiding DOMS. I think that sometimes you need to kick your own ass. There's something amazing that happens when you push yourself past your limits. You need to go to that place sometimes to remember just how resilient you are. This serves as a reminder that your limits are in your f-ing head and you can do way more than you think. You've got to always work on knocking down those walls you've built to keep yourself comfortable. Destroy them.

Okay, I'm going to go drink my wine now.

Dedicated not motivation.

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