Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
I’m sure most of us have felt muscle soreness after taking up a new activity like the Couch to 5K programme or working extra hard in a workout, but don’t be put off – it is completely normal.
When muscles are used in a different way or are required to work harder, it causes microscopic damage to the muscle fibres which results in that sore, stiff feeling.
It can occur 1 to 2 days after exercise and can last for 3 to 5 days. Anyone can be affected, regardless of their level of fitness but on a positive note, the soreness decreases as your muscles become accustomed to the new physical demands placed upon them. The soreness is all part of your body adapting and leads to greater stamina and strength as your muscles recover and undergo hypertrophy (an increase in muscle size).
Eccentric muscle contractions, which is when the muscle contracts as it lengthens, are the type most associated with DOMS – examples include descending stairs, running downhill, lowering weights, deep squats and lowering yourself during push-ups.
Rest, ice packs, painkillers and massage may help to ease the symptoms but there is no proven treatment which is completely effective. The pain can range between mild and severe but should not require medical attention unless it becomes unbearable, you experience severe swelling or your urine darkens.
To help prevent DOMS, new activities should be started gently and built up gradually, which allows your muscles time to adapt to the new exercise, thereby minimising soreness and it is important to ensure you warm up and cool down before and after your main exercise routine.
You can continue to exercise if suffering from DOMS and although it will feel uncomfortable to begin with, the soreness should decrease as the muscles warm up, although it is likely to return afterwards once your muscles have cooled down again. You may prefer to rest until the soreness has passed or focus on exercising less affected muscles to give your affected muscles time to recover.
You can download the official C25K app via the NHS website by clicking HERE where you will find all the information you need together with hints, tips and stretching advice.
It is never too late to start as the programme can be completed in your own time and fit in and around your lifestyle.
All you need is approximately 30-40 minutes three times a week whenever it suits you!
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