Muscle Soreness: Myths vs. Facts
“No Pain, No Gain”. as they say about muscle soreness. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We will explore some of the myths and facts about muscle fatigue, soreness, and ways to keep muscles soreness away from your body and muscles.
Lactic acid builds up in your muscles when you exercise them and is an indicator of muscle growth in properly functioning muscles. But, it doesn’t have to be there.. You may be surprised by what’s actually happening in your body, and we will talk about some of the Myths people have come to expect about muscle soreness and accepting it into your life… It doesn’t have to be this way!
Myth #1: DOMS is caused by the build-up of lactic acid in your muscles.
Delayed onset muscle soreness, or “DOMS” as they call it for short, occurs during and after exercise. Your body needs energy, so it breaks down molecules metabolically to process that energy. During accelerated metabolic function your cells speed up, and we register this speed up as your body becoming more acidic. When your blood and muscles become more acidic this is when they say, you “Fell The Burn”. But Lactate, or lactic acid, is actually a by-product of the metabolic process and serves as a buffer to slow down cell acidity. Lactic acid is released as a result of micro traumas in the muscles and surrounding connective tissues, which causes inflammation. So the Myth is Not True. The Lactic acid is actually helping you fight the damage that is causing the pain in your muscles after the workout.
RELATED: The Truth About Lactic Acid
Myth #2: It’s not a good workout unless you’re sore the next day.
Some people believe that if we’re not getting sore during workouts, than we’re not doing enough. But, that’s just not true.
When we exercise, our bodies require quite a lot of energy to fuel muscle contraction. We break down ATP (a high-energy compound), and a hydrogen ion is released in the process. During strenuous exercise where oxygen is limited, our metabolism can’t keep up with the ever-growing number of hydrogen ions in our body. And it’s actually the accumulation of hydrogen ions that makes the surrounding environment acidic and causes our muscles to burn. So really the Hydrogen Ions that the Lactic acid are fighting is the culprit that brings on the acidification.
The level of soreness itself is a poor indicator of muscle adaptation, growth, and development. There are many factors that influence how DOMS presents itself in individuals. There is great variability, even between people with similar genetics and even highly-trained athletes. Muscle soreness and DOMS isn’t the best gauge of how effective your workout was or who’s in better shape. Proper nutrition, hydration, and reacting to how you workout by what you put in your body are the key to preventing post workout soreness.
Myth #3: The more in shape you are, the less susceptible you will be to muscle soreness.
There is also a genetic component to how sensitive we are to pain and soreness. While you may not be able to change your genetic make-up, it is important to know where you fall on the spectrum to understand how your body may respond to your workouts. It’s true that you will start to feel less sore as your body adapts to your workouts and learns to distribute the workload across your muscle fibers more effectively. That’s why you should regularly change up your exercise routine, and be aware of your body’s movements during your exercises. Proper form can spread out the strain on muscles and prevent soreness.
Myth #4: Muscle damage and lactic acid build up is a bad thing.
True, lactic acid build up is caused by trauma to your muscle fibers, but it’s not a definitive measure of muscle damage. In fact, a certain amount of soreness and muscle damage seems to be a necessary evil of body development. Our bodies are very reactive to stress, and muscles repair themselves in reaction to the stressors. They grow and get larger and stronger than before. Some muscle trauma and lactic acid retaliation in the body is needed to stimulate ATP actions, protein production, and muscle growth.
Myth #5: Pre- and post-workout stretching is a good way to prevent and treat DOMS.
Unfortunately, Stretching before or after exercise may not delayed-onset muscle soreness Pre- and post-workout stretching do not reduce muscle soreness. In fact, research has found that Static Stretching prior to working not only does not safeguard you against injury it may actually add to the muscle fatigue and may actually decrease your power and strength by putting counter pressures on already sore muscles in the process of repair.
However, stretching is not all bad. Proper warm-up with dynamic stretching and proper cool down periods as part of your routine can help alleviate some muscle fatigue and damage that a cold start of cold stop might bring.
Muscle Fatigue: How to Recover!
Now that we covered some of the Myths about muscle fatigue, lets talk about how to properly recover.
A good sports massage, or even a regular massage that gets your lymphatic fluids flowing is one good way to reduce the effects of muscle soreness. A massage moves the fluid and blood around in your body, which accelerates the healing process the same way the cells are trying to repair damage. Think of the massage as a macro-reaction to the micro traumas in your muscles cells. Foam rolling is a great way to role out those sore muscles and get the fluids flowing if you don’t have someone around to give you a massage.
Hot and cold alternating showers, and salt baths, are also a great way to accelerate the healing and recovery process for sore muscles. Nothing quite like a trip to the beach alternating between warming up on the hot sand and dipping in the cool ocean to stimulate metabolic function in balancing out acidification of joints and muscles.
An increase in healthy protein intake, and any Omeg-3 amino-acids will aid the body in muscle repair and protein synthesis. Supplementing with herbs and natural medicines such as Turmeric may also help to alleviate muscle soreness. Staying hydrated and looking after your diet to make sure you are taking in proper nutrients to help your body heal, as apposed to more acid foods after working out will also help give your body what it needs to recover more quickly to muscle stress. Also, nothing can repair your body like good old fashioned Sleep.
We have everything your body needs at Healthy Hut to keep you on your feet, on your board, or whatever it is you want your body to be doing. Are you feeling sore from your workouts? Stop in today and find many healthy ways to help you stay feeling good and active thru your day.
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