DOMS...What Exactly Are We Dealing With?

If you’re an athlete, or have EVER participated in organized sports, you have most definitely heard of the term, “DOMS,” which lovingly stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness… the fantastic sensation many of us experience 2-4 days following a rigorous workout. Most folks, myself included for quite some time, chalk this phenomenon up to another ambiguous and popular term, “lactic acid,” and shrug it off. But is this correct?

Not quite. In short, “lactic acid,” or lactate, is a normal byproduct of your body’s metabolic cycles, and can actually be used as fuel. It is produced by your body during high intensity, anaerobic (without oxygen) exercise, and this happens when Pyruvate (a byproduct of glucose metabolism) cannot be broken down any further. While lactate can ACCOMPANY muscle soreness and fatigue, it is actually cleared from your body via your heart muscle, skeletal muscle, and liver within 30-60 minutes post-workout

So what IS the cause of delayed onset muscle soreness, you ask? Two words: swelling and inflammation. This happens within the muscle compartment in response to micro-tears in the tissue, and these little tears are normal and happen when you’re getting your pump on, so no worries. The tissue swelling results in an inflow of white blood cells, anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, and other nutrients that work to repair these tears. Long story short, your body’s got it under control!

 That being said, there are a few things you can do to ease this soreness and speed up the healing process:

1. MOVEMENT-Participating in some low impact cardio exercise such as walking or jogging can aid your body in “pumping out” the fluid in your tissues.

2. THERAPY-Any type of soft tissue therapy, such as massage, dynamic cupping, or vibration therapy, will help to move the excess fluid out of your tissues, resulting in decreased pain and stiffness.

3. HYDRATION-Your muscles are 70 percent water, so making sure you are adequately hydrated will speed up the recovery process.

Feel free to contact me with questions!

-Dr. Jessica