Friday, 8 June 2012

We do CrossFit to be STRONGER, FASTER, FITTER right? So why do we get Muscle Soreness?

Coach, I’m coming to the gym after five days, WHY?, because during the last workout I did more than 100 squats and after that my legs were jammed for 3 days. I could not move even and had to take 3 days off from work.   

Coach, my back is sore from last WOD, I think I should not do this workout today, please give me something else. 

Coach, for past few days I have stiffness in my shoulder because of which I can’t make barbell rack on my shoulder for front squat or push press.

Yes, I’m talking about muscle soreness. Muscle soreness puts a serious question on your functionality and fitness capability. Every second day I hear these stories. And as a head coach it is my responsibility to help with this issue.

But, before I answer, have you ever stopped to think about why your muscles are sore? Why do some workouts cause severe muscle soreness and others do not?

The answer is simple. Just close your facebook page and google Muscle Soreness / DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).  This is the first step to solve your problem.

Many people think Lactic acid accumulation inside the muscle is biggest cause for delayed soreness.

Let me tell you, muscle soreness is NOT caused by lactic acid build-up.  Lactic acid is a by-product of anaerobic exercise.  It is the ‘burn’ you feel when you are digging into your last lap of 5k row, or that last set of Tabata squats.  Lactic acid builds up quickly and is flushed out almost as fast.  The longest lactic acid levels will remain elevated is an hour. Just like heat and sweat you produce during workout.

DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness - normally occurs 24 to 72 hours after exercise. What causes DOMS is not known definitively, however exercise-induced muscle damage followed by an inflammation-induced increase in fluid in the muscle probably causes the muscle discomfort. Eccentric muscle action induces the most DOMS. DOMS is normally associated with a reduction in muscle strength and, following long-duration aerobic running or performing countless reps with moderate to heavy weight (anaerobic).

Delayed onset muscle soreness is thought to be a result of microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers. Any movement that you aren't used to can lead to DOMS, but eccentric muscle contraction are the main cause of this.

Since it is easy to know when you’re going to get sore, it is your responsibility to deal with it. The days when you lift heavy weights (close to 1RM) your muscles will face challenge to recover fast.

If you performing a certain movement after long gap, there is a greater chance to get delayed soreness.

Exercises which can make your body sore – all kind of heavy lifting like – Squats (front, back or overhead), Deadlift, Kettlebell swing / snatch, Olympic lifting, pistols, pull ups, GHD setups etc.

But there are a few exercises which are really not responsible for DOMS – like row, jump rope, box jumps etc.

I can tell you few points those will help you to deal with delayed muscle soreness.

·         Warm up – always perform Rx warmup

·         Cool down – perform slow aerobic exercise – like row or dynamic flexibility after workout.

·         Post WOD stretch – spend 7-10 minutes extra for flexibility and do nice and gentle stretch for the muscles you worked on.

·         Active recovery – if you find yourself sore next morning my suggestion is to perform basic warm up and do some mobility workout.

·         Using Foam Roller (or PVC roller) -  if your hamstring is sore and you find squat or lunges in WOD, I suggest you spend 5 minutes on Foam/PVC roller and release your muscles so you can perform well during WOD. But most effective use of Foam/PVC roller is post WOD.

·         Yoga – some basic yoga exercises can reduce DOMS.

·         Rest and recover – if your condition is really bad, you should rest and recover and should avoid any workout.

·         Listen to your body – my coach Austin Malleolo always says that you should listen to your body. Your body communicates really well with you. If it says no it means no.

·         Speak to your coach – you can text or call your coach if you are in a really bad condition, I’m sure your coach will tell you what to do.

By - Piyush Pandey

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