Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain or discomfort often felt 24 to 72 hours after exercising and subsides generally within 2 to 3 days. Once thought to be caused by lactic acid buildup, a more recent theory is that it is caused by tiny tears in the muscle fibers caused by eccentric contraction, or unaccustomed training levels. Since lactic acid disperses fairly rapidly, it could not explain pain experienced days after exercise, and some concentric-only exercises produce lactic acid, but rarely produce DOMS
Well that is what Wiki says. But we have all experienced it, even - dare I say it - enjoyed it. I used to feel that it was a sign that I had really trained hard and had stimulated growth.....masochist to the last.
The thing is I am not sure that such soreness is necessarily good. Certainly for those of a less obsessive / masochistic tendency it can put them off exercise all together. Soreness itself is maybe a warning a sign of tissue damage, a signal of injury rather than health....
So how do we prevent DOMS?
I just spotted this new study that seems to indicate that DOMS can be prevented by using a certain training protocol: Aerobic cardioacceleration immediately before each set of resistance exercise It is hard to tell from the abstract, but presumably that means a brief sprint or whatever to get the heart rate up.
The conclusions was that this protocol rapidly eliminates DOMS during vigorous progressive resistance training in athletes.
That is quite a big conclusion!
Is anyone out there going to try this and see if it works? I wonder how it applies to things like interval weight training? I did an interval session of kettlebell snatches the other day and my heart rate got really high throughout the session.....but I was still sore the next day!
Anyway, here is the abstract:
Elimination of delayed-onset muscle soreness by pre-resistance cardioacceleration before each set.
We compared delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) induced by anaerobic resistance exercises with and without aerobic cardioacceleration before each set, under the rationale that elevated heart rate (HR) may increase blood perfusion in muscles to limit eccentric contraction damage and/or speed muscle recovery. In two identical experiments (20 men, 28 women), well-conditioned athletes paired by similar physical condition were assigned randomly to experimental or control groups. HR (independent variable) was recorded with HR monitors. DOMS (dependent variable) was self-reported using Borg's Rating of Perceived Pain scale. After identical pre-training strength testing, mean DOMS in the experimental and control groups was indistinguishable (P > or = 0.19) for musculature employed in eight resistance exercises in both genders, validating the dependent variable. Subjects then trained three times per week for 9 (men) to 11 (women) weeks in a progressive, whole-body, concurrent training protocol. Before each set of resistance exercises, experimental subjects cardioaccelerated briefly (mean HR during resistance training, 63.7% HR reserve), whereas control subjects rested briefly (mean HR, 33.5% HR reserve). Mean DOMS among all muscle groups and workouts was discernibly less in experimental than control groups in men (P = 0.0000019) and women (P = 0.0007); less for each muscle group used in nine resistance exercises in both genders, discernible (P < 0.025) in 15 of 18 comparisons; and less in every workout, discernible (P < 0.05) in 32% (men) and 55% (women) of workouts. Most effect sizes were moderate. In both genders, mean DOMS per workout disappeared by the fourth week of training in experimental but not control groups. Aerobic cardioacceleration immediately before each set of resistance exercises therefore rapidly eliminates DOMS during vigorous progressive resistance training in athletes.