Recently I have been spending time on the Quora website when this question came up, I believe that the answer is of interest to lifters of all levels regardless of whether they are casual gym goers, Powerlifters, Strongmen, or Bodybuilders, so here are a few options for reducing the pain and discomfort of DOMS after a training session.
What is DOMS ?
DOMS stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and is most commonly suffered for 1-2 days after you have had an unusually intense training session, Have just returned to training after a long break or you have just changed your training routine.
What Causes DOMS ?
DOMS is thought to be caused by eccentric (lengthening) exercise, which causes micro-trauma to the muscle fibres. It was once a popular belief that Lactic acid build up was the cause of DOMS but recent research has shown this is not the case at all and has even shown that lactic acid is actually used by your muscles for fuel when oxygen supplies are depleted. Lactic acid build-up only lasts in your muscles for at most an hour or two after your workout is complete.
How to reduce the pain of DOMS ?
Contrast Showers – A contrast shower, through the process of vasodilation and vasoconstriction with the application of hot water contrasted with cold water will force oxygen and nutrient rich blood into the muscles and assist the body clear out any residual lactic acid. By doing this you are giving the muscles a head start in the healing process and it feels good. It is also much more practical for the average lifter than Cold Water Immersion.
Active Recovery – The day after training it is helpful to do light low-intensity workout to again boost blood flow and encourage healing.
Massage, Sauna and Hot Baths – As with active recovery, increasing blood flow through massage will assist in the healing process.
In the past it has been common practice to implement a stretching routine to combat the effects of DOMS However, recent research has shown that the effect stretching has on DOMS is negligible. Recent research has also shown that extended warm up sessions, before exercising in some way your body isn’t used to, will also help reduce DOMS.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2011 – Volume 43 – Issue 5 – p 766 Efficacy of Cold-Water Immersion in Treating Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness in Male Distance Runners