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DOMS; what is it, and how do I recover?

Feeling the burn from yesterday's intense HIIT session? If the mere thought of a burpee makes you cringe and even putting on your socks feels like a challenge, you might be experiencing DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. But fear not, relief is on the way. Let's dive into what DOMS is all about and how you can alleviate the discomfort.

What is DOMS?

DOMS kicks in between 24 to 48 hours after engaging in high-intensity physical activities that your body isn't accustomed to. It's the stiffness and soreness that follow a killer workout session, but it's also a sign that you're pushing your limits and making progress.

Why do we get DOMS?

When you engage in resistance training, you're essentially creating micro-tears in your muscles, which then repair and become stronger. The soreness you feel is a result of this process, indicating that your fitness is improving.

What's happening in your body?

Contrary to popular belief, DOMS isn't caused by lactic acid buildup. Instead, it's due to temporary inflammation around the overworked muscles; it's actually all about blood flow and healing. As the hours pass, blood cells rush to the inflamed area to heal the soreness and recover. This inflammatory response peaks around 48 hours post-exercise before gradually subsiding.

Treating DOMS

Ease your discomfort with simple remedies like soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salts, rich in magnesium, which aids in muscle recovery. Magnesium, a magic mineral that helps widen your blood vessels and helps to boost your recovery. Search for Epsom salts in your pharmacy, next to the indigestion remedies – they're also used to treat bloating.

Alternatively, brave the cold with ice baths, or try contrast water therapy – alternating between hot and cold water treatments.

Massage for relief

You can also start with every fitness bunny's best friend, the foam roller. This can help soothe sore muscles by releasing tight trigger points and knots. Take your time and roll each limb thoroughly while breathing deeply to maximize effectiveness.

Preventing DOMS

Consider wearing knee-high compression socks post-exercise to reduce soreness. These socks can significantly decrease DOMS according to recent research, making them a worthwhile investment for avid athletes.

Working out with DOMS

While it's okay to continue exercising with DOMS, opt for low-impact activities like swimming or light stretching to promote active recovery. Save high-intensity workouts for when your body feels fully recovered to avoid exacerbating soreness.

Nutrition for recovery

Support your muscles' recovery with a nutritious meal rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. A balanced plate featuring meat, fish or poultry, spinach, sweet potato, and red peppers provides essential nutrients to aid in muscle repair and replenishment. There are plenty of muscle-boosting protein from the "meats",  lots of vitamin E from spinach and sweet potato, plus an energising dose of vitamin C from your red peppers.

By understanding the causes of DOMS and implementing effective recovery strategies, you can bounce back quicker and continue pursuing your fitness goals with confidence. So, embrace the burn, but don't let it derail your progress – recovery is just a soak away.

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