Here's why it doesn't need to be painful to know that a workout was effective.

June 27, 2022

The sore and tender sensation our muscles experience after working out is known scientifically as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It typically occurs after engaging in a highly taxing activity or if we engage in unfamiliar forms of exercise. Any sort of exercise can cause it, although eccentric exercise is more likely to cause it. These are exercises where you stretch your muscles while resisting a force, such as when you sprint downhill or descend stairs. Because they might not be used to eccentric training, the smaller upper-limb muscles (such as your biceps and shoulders) can be more vulnerable to DOMS.

Even though DOMS can occur hours after a workout, it often peaks two days later, depending on the volume and intensity of the activity. Even though DOMS is widespread, the cause of the condition is still not well known, despite a few possibilities that have been put up by academics.

According to the prevailing scientific theory, DOMS is related to a mix of:

  1. Mechanical injury (to the protein structure of the muscle fiber)
  2. The muscle fiber's membrane has been harmed.
  3. Muscle fibers' surrounding connective tissue has been harmed.
  4. The body's inflammatory response leads to increased protein breakdown in the muscles and the stimulation of some neurons, which results in pain.

It's likely necessary to cause some degree of exercise-induced muscle injury to develop bigger, stronger muscles. You're less likely to have DOMS to the same extent the following time you exercise, even if muscle damage from exercise may cause muscles to operate less well after a workout (occasionally for up to two weeks). This could also explain why DOMS doesn't affect those who exercise frequently as frequently. After ten training sessions, regular weightlifting with an emphasis on eccentric exercises (such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses) has also been found to lessen the negative effects of exercise on the muscles.
There are probably several causes for this, but the muscle's improvement in preventing harm is the main one.

Each person experiences DOMS differently, both in terms of frequency and severity. However, older individuals may be more prone to both DOMS and exercise-induced muscle injury, presumably as a result of their muscles' decreased capacity to recover from intense activity. According to research, some individuals are genetically predisposed to recovering from eccentric exercise more quickly than others who performed the same activity.

It can be very challenging to avoid DOMS when beginning a new exercise regimen when your first workout is particularly demanding or lengthy. DOMS may also result from including more eccentric movements in your training regimen. If you regularly exercise and discover that you aren't as sore later in the day or even in the days after your workout, rest assured that your workout is still effective - your muscles have just gotten better at repairing the damage and recovering from it. However, being sore doesn't necessarily mean you've had a more effective session; it simply means you're doing something your muscles aren't used to. Instead of believing that you must exercise until you're sore to get fitter and stronger, focus on the concept of "progressive overload," where you gradually increase the amount of activity you do each time, such as adding weight or performing more reps on an exercise. Progressive overload has been demonstrated to be an efficient approach to increasing muscle mass and strength, and it may help lessen the occurrence of DOMS. According to studies, applying progressive overload in your workouts regularly is enough to have this effect.

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