Muscle Soreness; we’ve all been there. Perhaps you started a new training program. Perhaps you pushed yourself harder than usual, or maybe you had one too many days off between workouts. Whatever the reason, most of us have experienced muscle soreness or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after training.
DOMS usually shows up between 24-48hrs after a training session, and can make everyday activities like walking down stairs or sitting on the toilet a challenge!
So, what can you do to alleviate DOMS? Or do you just have to suck it up and wait for it to fade of its own accord? There’s plenty of bro science and old wives tales about this subject, so I decided to examine the research and see what stacks up.
1- Keep Moving
The theory here goes that aerobic exercise, like walking, cycling etc, will help to keep the blood flowing to the affected muscles, thereby helping to speed up the clearing of metabolic waste products while at the same time delivering nutrients.
That all sounds very plausible. The problem is there’s not really a whole lot of research to back this up.
Anecdotally though it seems people agree that keeping moving helps to relieve some of the pain and soreness, and this study showed that although movement may not have led to any reduction in DOMS, it didn’t do any harm or hamper recovery in any way. On balance, I think it’s definitely worth adding in some light active recovery days if you are experiencing DOMS.
2- Get a Massage
Massage is one of my favourite ways to relieve the muscle soreness caused by muscle fibers repairing themselves after a workout. This study shows that, although it has no effect on muscle function, massage is a great way to alleviate the discomfort caused by DOMS.
But don’t worry if you cannot afford a sports massage, or don’t have a willing helper to rub in the deep heat, foam rolling, and active stretching can help alleviate the discomfort of DOMS just as well as massage.
3- Drink Coffee
I don’t need much of an excuse to drink coffee; I love the stuff! But this study is still great news, as it showed that caffeine can alleviate post-exercise muscle soreness. Pass me a latte!
4- Take Omega 3
Omega 3s are a regular feature in my supplementation protocol. Almost all of us could do with more Omega 3s, because the Omega 3 to 6 balance in modern diets is generally all out of whack. But that’s another topic for another post. What can Omega 3s do for DOMS?
This study shows that 3gs of Omega 3 reduced DOMS, although it did not prevent it entirely. However, in this study participants were given 1.8 grams and showed no improvement so it seems the dose is critical.
If you’re looking for a high-quality source of Omega 3s, this is the supplement I recommend.
5- Take BCAAs
Finally, this study suggests that taking BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) may actually prevent muscle damage in the first place. So having some BCAAs pre and/or during workout may actually prevent DOMs. My recommended BCAA formula is this one, primarily because its the only one I’ve found that isn’t sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
These are five scientifically proven ways to help prevent or relieve post-exercise muscle soreness, but I’d be interested to know what works for you. Leave a comment below letting me know about your tried and tested ways to beat post muscle soreness!