DOMS can be a source of pride in the days after a tough workout or long run, but when you live a busy life it can also rapidly become a hindrance. We know you won’t want to be complaining or skipping workouts, so use these top tips to recover after running and help reduce pain and discomfort so you can get on with training.
What Causes DOMS?
DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness is the pain, stiffness, swelling and tenderness felt in muscles one or two days after a workout. It’s believed to be caused by the inflammatory response that comes from putting your muscles under stress. When you exercise you cause micro-tears in the muscle, this is what causes them to grow and get stronger. Blood cells will rush to the area to help heal these micro-tears, causing inflammation and soreness. It should only last 48 hours and although it’s uncomfortable it is a good sign that you’re working out right. DOMS is most likely to occur when you introduce a new training stimulus, whether that’s upping the intensity of your workout or trying a totally new movement. It means your body is adapting.
Runner’s are most likely to experience DOMS when they run downhill. Although it can affect all muscle and movement types it’s most common when the muscle lengthens as it contracts (also known as eccentric contraction).
Five Ways to Ease Muscle Soreness After a Run
Now we’re up to speed on the symptoms and causes of DOMS, it’s time to find out how to fast-track the process so you can leave hobbling behind you and move on to your next workout.
1. Use Your Massage Gun
If you haven’t already, it’s time to invest in a muscle massage gun like the MyoPro or MyoLite. Percussion therapy is key when it comes to successful self-myofascial release, the massage techniques individuals can perform on their own body that target tight fascia. Fascia is the web-like structure of connective-tissue that covers all of our organs, bones, vessels, muscles and fibres in our body. Just like our muscles, the fascia can tighten when it is placed under repetitive strain in one area, causing knots that are painful and limit mobility. Using a massage gun to target these tight areas has been shown to decrease DOMS by 50%.
But that’s not the only way a massage gun can ease pain. The high frequency vibration of percussive massage overrides pain signals in the body. This is because the nervous system is programmed to pay attention to the higher frequency stimulus. It also improves blood circulation and breaks down painful internal scar tissue and adhesions.
2. Always Hydrate Right
As with most of the body, the majority of muscle mass is actually water (about 76%). That means if you don’t keep hydrated and focus on rehydration after exercise, then you’ll be making your DOMS worse. Research has shown correlation between dehydration and increased muscle soreness. It’s thought that water helps the body flush out waste product which causes pain and discomfort. Don’t forget that using your MyoPro or MyoLite will also help to increase circulation and remove waste product from your system.
3. Test The Temperature
The research on whether it’s best to use heat or cold to treat muscle soreness is pretty mixed. Many athletes swear that an ice bath reduces soreness and swelling. While others would tell you that a warm bath is best as it widens blood vessels and relaxes muscles. We say, it’s your call. Listen to your body and find what feels good for you when you recover after running.
4. Eat The Pain Away
You might be reaching for the medicine cabinet (and that’s totally fine if DOMS is treating you particularly badly) but there are lots of pain-fighting foods in your fridge and cupboards. Natural foods like eggs, nuts and salmon can reduce inflammation, speed up recovery and ease soreness. Check out the ten best foods for muscle recovery and fix yourself a pain-crushing meal.
5. Nod Off Enough
The body’s not-so-secret weapon. If you want to heal, you need to sleep. Because that’s when our body releases important repair and growth hormones. The average person needs around seven hours of sleep a night but if you’re training hard and feeling sore you might need to catch a few more zzz. If you struggle to drop off, don’t forget that using a massage gun just before bed is a great way to relax and promote good quality sleep.
If you have a marathon or ultra-marathon in your sights then you need to take how you recover after running seriously. Not only will the right course of action reduce muscle soreness and fatigue so you can keep training but it will also improve your performance. Now is definitely the time to get your hands on a MyoMaster muscle massage gun.