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What causes my muscles to be painful after an exercise session?

If you are getting in some last-minute exercise before the holidays or attempting a new activity, you should be aware of the possibility of sore muscles afterwards. But why does your body feel so achy, and what can you do to hasten your recovery?

Delayed onset muscle
Some persons have unusually severe muscular pain after a prolonged period of rest.

Have you made the decision to get a head start on your New Year’s resolve and start exercising right away? Alternatively, maybe you’re considering ramping up your regular regimen in preparation for the inevitable excesses of the holiday season? It’s likely that your muscles will suffer as a result of this.

Your muscles begin to stiffen up within a day after your training session, and you get more uncomfortable as a result. The following few days will be spent moving like a robot, finding it difficult to clothe oneself, and writhing in anguish at the thought of even going down a flight of stairs.

Whether you’ve just started exercising or have been pushing yourself to your limits, you’re probably acquainted with the following sequence of events.

You are now enjoying the benefits of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) (DOMS). But what exactly causes the discomfort, and is there anything you can do to alleviate it? We’ll provide you with the scientific proof.

DOMS and eccentric exercise

DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is a characteristic of eccentric activity. Any activity that causes a muscle to lengthen while it is under strain is considered to be this kind of exercise. Jogging (especially downhill running), the lowering action of a bicep curl, and the downward portion of a squat are all examples of eccentric exercise that may be performed.

Our muscles are harmed when we execute eccentric activities that our body aren’t yet used to performing.

Patricia Hume, Ph.D., a professor of human performance at the School of Sport & Recreation at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, notes that “DOMS is classed as a type I muscular strain injury” in a paper published in the journal Sports Medicine.

“[…] the sensations experienced with this injury can vary from slight muscle stiffness, which rapidly disappears during daily routine activities, to severe debilitating pain which restricts movement,” she adds.

But what exactly is the source of the muscle injury and pain?

There are many ideas, but only a few answers

Unfortunately, despite the fact that there are various scientific ideas on what causes DOMS, no one knows for certain what causes it. Prof. Hume believes it is a blend of the several hypotheses that have been proposed.

First and foremost, the pressures created during the eccentric action cause injury to the muscle structure and connective tissue around it. This results in an imbalance of calcium in the body, which causes more harm.

Following that, inflammation takes over. The pain is triggered by the stimulation of pain neurons within 48 hours, which is followed by swelling, which makes the pain greater.

Pain is real and may be very debilitating, regardless of the underlying reason. So, what are your options?

Cryotherapy and antioxidants

In many cases, the increased free radicals and oxidative damage created during eccentric exercise are blamed for the development of DOMS symptoms.

A miraculous remedy, antioxidants have been heralded as the next big thing. However, according to a systematic study released only last week, there is no data to back up this assertion.

How to Get Rid of DOMS

Consider getting a massage instead, which may help ease your discomfort, according to a recent systematic study published in September in the journal Frontiers in Physiology. This is particularly true if the massage is performed 48 hours after your exercise session is over.

Evidence is growing that foam-roller massages may be a very effective pain-relieving home treatment.

A number of smaller studies published this year show that wearing pressure garments after your exercise and drinking milk protein may both help you recover faster and more effectively.

The good news is that DOMS will subside on its own if you provide your body enough time to rest to recover. Rest assured that your next exercise session will be less uncomfortable, even if you are experiencing some of the negative side effects as you read this!

Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.