Sore Muscles - The Advice You Can't Get In A Gym?

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DOMS…Delayed…Onset…Muscle…Soreness?

The first thing I have to mention about DOMS…is that…it hasn’t yet actually been truly…physiologically defined…or agreed upon fully.

It’s still a work in progress…if you like.

Something…that myself as a soft tissue specialist…works towards fully uncovering on a daily basis.

We’ve all experienced it in our lives…at some point.

It’s that soreness…that stiffness you sometimes feel after…certain movements or exercise…you know what I mean?

That thing that stops you being able to get in and out of the car/on and off the toilet for a couple of days after exertion…leaving you immobile and tender?

Sometimes it comes on straight away…sometimes a day or two after.

Can last a few days…a week…can keep coming on and off randomly…its quite sporadic.

I deal with many people experiencing this phenomenon…who don’t even train or exercise at all…who suffer from this intermittently…on a consistent basis…so…my friends…this is applicable to us all.

I had to research it in pursuit of becoming what I do today…and it’s a question I get asked a lot.

It has become almost my “Clinic Script”…but…stick with it…it’s not all fancy words…I then transition into how you can use this to help yourself.

If you are somebody that suffers from this regularly…then…hopefully…it gives you a deeper insight than what is normally found.

Everybody has an opinion…so I guess…this is just my constant regurgitation.

I respect yours in return and wish you nothing but prosperity and success.

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What Is It?

Well – It’s usually felt after intense exercise…over exercise…or adding any form of new stress that is perceived to the nervous system…to be above…over…or beyond current capabilities.

We classify it as a type1 muscle strain…caused by high amounts of tension in the contractile elements of our musculature…and excess strain put on our connective tissues.

This in tandem…causes structural damage to the cell membrane.

It is widely regarded and believed that the strain occurs from/during the eccentric (lengthening) portion of movement/training…and is heavily correlated with the appearance of myoglobin in the urine.

The intense exercise can cause the presence of increased muscle enzymes in the blood…due to damage caused to the muscle membrane.

The extent of the damage is all dependent on the level of exertion…but it is going to create tightness…pain…tenderness and swelling.

The cell membrane damage disturbs the calcium homeostasis in the injured fibre…causing accumulation…inhibiting cellular respiration…which can also result in spasms and cramps.

Intracellular contents accumulate in the interstitium…stimulating free nerve endings…causing the muscle pain and soreness.

That’s why we feel the “DOMS Effect”

At this point…to me…it’s really worth noting that the appearance of myoglobin in the urine(Myoglobinuria)…shows in my opinion…that we risk converting DOMS into rhabdomyolysis.

When you break it down…excuse the pun…rhabdomyolysis…is just a much more severe…extreme version…that has the environment to prosper under the parameters of prolonged and consistent delayed onset muscle soreness.

It is a serious pathology…that leads to renal failure…from soft tissue injury.

The two almost hold hands with one another…not quite…but they are within touching distance.

To break it down in a much less complex manner…I say it like this.

When you injure tissue…it leaks stuff…the bigger the injury…the more leakage…if that leakage isn’t managed…then it will cause ongoing problems…some of them serious.

This is my plea for us all to start looking at this topic in more depth…with more seriousness.

When your tissue is not in optimal condition…your body is in constant subconscious realisition of that fact…24/7…whether we identify it in ourselves…or not.

DOMS…is seen in this glossed over fitness world we live in…as a badge of honour…a representation of “Goin hard…or goin home.”

It’s not the case…at all…physiologically…truly.

The point to my post is…that…there are many different assimilating factors.

It isn’t…just…a…thing…delayed onset muscle soreness…isn’t just an outright exercise or training factor…which is what it has become simply known as being today.

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The majority of times in my soft tissue clinic…I see many…many reasons for DOMS occurring.

Far too many for you not to fall asleep on me…or get bored…reading this!

There are three main ones…big ones…that kind of wrap up most…that I just want to touch on slightly.

I’m touching on them after my brief explanation…of what I understand DOMS to be…because tuning and tapping into this way of thinking…will help you avoid this cycle…as it leads to an array of further problems in the end…if a consistent problem.

1. Training

Over Training – Unrealistic Training – Lack Of Training Experience – Poor Training Ethos -Lack Of Rest Time – Incorrect Recovery – No Recovery – Postural Dysfunction

If you look at what DOMS is generally categorised as…then you can see why these are areas that need to be looked at…and looked after.

Although it can be a sign of new positive stimuli…it’s not something you want to be getting regularly…it’s not something you necessarily want to go out searching for or chasing either.

I don’t think there is any point really going into much more detail with this category…as it’s really been covered within the explanation above.

That’s just a posher way of putting this section.

The same things I’d say about this…is what I cover above and in the ones below anyway.

2. Dehydration (Consider this alongside number one)

Dehydration is either going to create…start…affect or exacerbate the DOMS or muscle breakdown…as a result of a lack of intracellular water…leading to structural damage…or further structural damage.

It doesn’t even matter if the exertion is too vigorous.

The temperature of the body and tissue will have increased during exercise…or exertive movement…and with a lack of hydration this can be a contributing factor to micro tears in the muscle fibre.

This causes a denaturing of proteins and can affect the mechanical properties of the myofibrils…making them more likely to be damaged during eccentric activity.

The phrase exertive is also subjective.

Depends on the unique…specific…individual.

For example…let’s say you are sat down…on your arse…doing absolutely nothing…with an excessive shortness to your lats…anterior/medial delt…pec minor…pec major and subscapularis. (Very…very common)

Well…under the concept of biotensegrity…raising your arms above your head into full flexion…just sat there…is going to be exertive for your tissues.

Moving into full abduction is going to be.

Both…a risk of DOMS…or more serious injury.

You don’t need to be going a million miles an hour to suffer from…or experience this.

People say we should rule out DOMS as being a physiological warning sign…which I’ve never understood…as it’s a stress response by definition.

The denaturing of the proteins for example..
affecting the myofibrils
…can quite easily be upgraded in strain type over a sustained period of time when dehydration comes into play…alongside postural dysfunction and poor mechanics. (Micro tear…to macro tear…DOMS…to…rhabdomyolysis)

This can also lead to a disruption of calcium homeostasis and overproduction of ATP.

Drink your water…over any other liquid out there…stay hydrated…eat nutrient rich foods…listen to your body.

These are all far more important than any workout or P.B.

3. Mental State (Consider this with number one and two)

This is a big thing and means a lot.

It’s probably…over all…the most important factor.

Stress and anxiety for example are very serious areas that need to be focused on and addressed in people’s lives.

Our nervous system affects who we are…how we function…think…react…perform…feel and live.

This will effect sleep and repair and also have a weakening effect on immune response…breathing…motivation and performance.

If we can’t rest…we can’t relax…we can’t recover…we can’t live properly.

Life is a nervous system response…that requires the necessary and adequate responses in return.

Put simply…the changes in the body that occur during sympathetic arousal can take its toll and eventually exhaust the body…leading to many dysfunctions and health problems.

You cannot expect to be able to train…develop..
recover…prosper or benefit…if your mind isn’t right.

It’s a neuromusclar connection.

A stress response is received…because of stress…and it will start to show…in many many different ways.

Two of the most common ways will be soreness and tension…whether you train or not…for many different reasons.

The full area of mental state is far too broad of a spectrum to even try to consider deciphering in a blog post….just as the amount of different ways the various soft tissue structures of our bodies can be damaged is.

I just want to give small examples…in the hope it sparks thoughts that are outside of the box.

I often give this advice – BRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEAAAAAAATTTTTHHHHEEEEEEEEE!

We live in the day and age of complete and absolute information overload.

Attacked with constant barrages of information…bombarding us like massed artillery fire…24/7…366…including leap years.

There is no rest…there are no gaps…no pauses…nor breaks.

It just keeps on going and going…controlled and orchestrated by such a vast vassst array of different channels…outlets and media.

I don’t even think it could be quantifiable.

My friends…take that time for yourself..
to shut the world out and wake up tomorrow mentally and physiologically stronger.

You wouldn’t believe the difference made by spending a few minutes a day in silence…focusing on your breathing and diaphragmatic strength.

This is so important when talking about DOMS.

Breathing patterns alone as a byproduct of mental state and postural dysfunction can be a big enough area of concern.

Breathing becomes much worse during times of stress and anxiety. (It’s also something that needs to be controlled in all situations)

Once breathing starts to become dysfunctional the whole chain of command and it’s hierarchy of movement falls to pieces.

This affects life…all areas of it.

DOMS is inevitable in this case…it has to be at some point…whether its a one off…or constant occurrence.

Using shallow movements and faulty breathing mechanics reduces parasympathetic activity in the first place…as it affects the way we intake oxygen…increasing heart rate…cardiac output and blood pressure.

This will affect circulation and the blood getting to the muscle/oxygen extracted into the tissue…which in turn effects the transport of nutrients/waste and repair…causing a thriving environment for DOMS to be created…or maintained…mentally and physiologically.

Taking it further…if we breathe from the chest…for example…this will effect the diaphragm regulating breathing…by changing intrathoracic volume.

If we are not utilising the function of the diaphragm…we are in danger of constantly over stressing or over using the rectus abdominus…quadratus lumborum…intercostals…pec minor…sternocleidomastoid and scalenes…as these are now having to facilitate breathing.

This can create a shortening which in turn leaves an opposing muscle too long and weak effecting overall posture.

The integrity and harmony of essential length to tension ratios have now been disturbed…creating many byproducts of compensation…creating or maintaining DOMS.

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To almost end with the point I made before…and constantly make.

Life is a nervous system response…all of it…it’s how we have evolved up to this point?

Whether it’s over training…depression…anxiety…or simply punching above your weight…it all starts from the CNS.

Everything I said about this topic…I could apply to exercise…I could apply to dehydration and vice versa.

That’s why it’s so fascinating.

We are all weird and wonderful in our own unique way.

I see often a level of contraction restricting blood flow causing ischemia for example.

It can be to do with exercise…posture…school…work…relationships…bereavement…change…lifestyle…you name it.

It isn’t one singular factor.

This type of continuous isometric contraction forces the muscles into anaerobic metabolism…increasing lactic acid and other metabolite build up…aiding and abetting in or creating DOMS or “DOMS like effects.”

I often see overexcited muscle spindles that are inhibiting the Golgi Tendon Organ…I see too much length…not enough length…all creating the same effects…for many different reasons.

It would take thousands and thousands of words to truly go into cellular detail about what I’m fully talking about.

These are just a few examples I’m bringing to peoples attention…scratching the surface.

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Soreness after training should be treated like a mild injury or postural dysfunction.

It’s your body warning you that the parameters either weren’t right…or aren’t right going forward – The parameters may not necessarily be even to do with exercise.

It can be of benefit in certain scenarios but not something that should be experienced regularly.

There are many reasons why the feeling may come on…but if it is consistent…then it’s time to seek a clinic that can help.

  • DON’T stretch a muscle with DOMS – It’s already torn – wait for the pain to subside – Make sure it isn’t a higher grade of injury.
  • DON’T use heat or hot baths to try and relax/ease it – Use the application of Ice on the area and a luke warm bath
  • DON’T work the same area if you are still sore – If you train properly – You have a full lengthening phase – Which is detrimental – People will say it’s fine but treat it as a grade 1 – Why load and lengthen a torn fibre…Micro – macro?
  • Drink enough water
  • Eat the right food
  • Sleep – Rest – Recover
  • Take time out for you – Breathe – Relax – De-stress
  • Mobilise & stretch when not sore
  • Focus on posture
  • Focus on your movement patterns for everyday life
  • Focus on exercise and movement methodology

What A Day To Be Alive

Disturb the paradigm

https://www.softtissuemanchester.co.uk/

Lee Cleaver - Soft Tissue Specialist - Movement Analyst - Elite Performance Coach