How a Common Gym Myth Makes You Suffer for No Reason
Author: Angela Mayer
So you had an epic leg day yesterday. You squatted like an Amazonian Warrior Queen but today you can’t sit without groaning in pain. It must mean that you kicked butt, right? Doesn’t pain always follow the best workouts?
Nope. You’ve got a bad case of the DOMS. Your muscles are mad and not about to look sexier because you whipped them like a dominatrix at the gym.
What if you could still reap the calorie-busting, booty-blasting rewards of a great gym visit without moaning up the stairs at work?
YOU’VE GOT THE “DOMS”
The “DOMS” or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness also known as, “muscle fever” is the stiffness and pain you feel in your muscles after hard, strenuous exercise. This is more than a little soreness. The stiffness starts a few hours after working out and becomes a suckfest of suffering 24-72 hours later. According to current research at the Department of Pathology and School of Medicine in Auckland, New Zealand, the DOMS isn’t an accurate benchmark of a workout well done. Yet it still persists as one of the fitness industry’s biggest myths. In gyms everywhere, trainers brag about their aches and continue to teach, “no pain no gain.” It’s not just archaic, it’s dangerous and unnecessary.
If you’re tired of whimpering into your yoga pants after training then read on below, because you won’t just feel better, you’ll smash your goals faster too. Plus, I’ll reveal 4 ways to reduce muscle fever if you’re doomed with DOMS right now.
BUT IT’S 2018! DOESN’T SCIENCE KNOW EVERYTHING?
Still not completely understood, researchers know that Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is worse at the beginning of a fitness journey or after intense and unaccustomed exercise. Even professional athletes can suffer it.
The outdated theory heard in women’s change rooms says lactic acid builds up in your overworked muscles inflicting torturous pain. If you hear your trainer tell you this-run off the treadmill and out to safety. It means they’re not up on current and continuing education in their field. If they don’t know this, how do you trust them to fix your form?
To understand the latest in muscle fever science we need to cover two types of movements you perform when working out.
Eccentric Contraction Exercises:
These movements lengthen your muscles. For example, when lowering to the ground during a squat, the downward motion lengthens your quads. When you pump up your biceps with curls, you elongate the muscle when you lower the weight. Researchers believe that it’s this lengthening motion that really revs up DOMS pain.
Concentric Contraction Exercises:
Concentric Contractions are the opposite movement and shorten your muscles. When you come up from the floor during a squat you shorten your quads. The same with raising the bar with bicep curls.
Most workouts have both contractions, so there’s no point avoiding exercises that lengthen muscles-I tried and it was ridiculous (because every exercise worth doing has eccentric contractions). I walked around the gym like one of those gym bros who do nothing but chat up girls and flex in the mirror. Not a good look.
Other theories exist to explain muscle fever. Inflammation, metabolic stress and losing the genetic pain tolerance lottery are all thought to be contributing factors.
THE SECRET TO PAIN-FREE WEIGHT LIFTING AND HITTING GOALS FASTER
So what’s a girl to do on her quest for a fitter, sexier, stronger body? Isn’t weight lifting and resistance training some of the healthiest ways to shed weight, fire up your metabolism, lose belly fat and build a fit, gorgeous physique?
Without a doubt. The secret is doing lighter weight training routines but hitting them more often. Instead of killing yourself 2-3 times a week with severe 45-60 minute workouts (where you’re lifting until you wobble), go 4-5 times for 25-30 minutes. Keep the reps hard and heavy without too much strain. Always finish with a cool down on the elliptical or treadmill, then stretch like a cat in the sun.
This keeps muscle fever from throbbing so badly you walk like a bow-legged cowgirl. You’ll also be rested enough to get the most out of your next session. This is the secret to reaching your fitness and weight loss goals in less time. Your body recovers quickly and efficiently, leaving you refreshed and motivated for your next gym day.
If you exercise so hard you can’t lift your phone, the soreness will stop you from returning in 2 days. On a fitness or weight loss plan, any excuse to skip sweating can derail you from your goals. A lot of women exhaust themselves and need a week to heal up. You’ll overwork to make up what you missed, and so on. The vicious cycle starts all over again.
IF YOU CAN’T SIT WITHOUT WHIMPERING RIGHT NOW…
Here’s 4 tips to help stomp out the pain:
Drink fluids: Your muscles are inflamed and dehydrated. Grab water- or better yet, grab an antioxidant booster like coffee, or cherry, blueberry or pineapple juice. Antioxidants help kick free-radicals that cause cellular damage out of your body.
Rest: Don’t strain yourself with another gym sesh until the pain is gone. Let yourself heal by relaxing. Sip on a protein shake and catch up on Netflix. Some people swear that exercising banishes pain, but there’s no science to back this up. Plus, you might seriously injure yourself. Take a load off and chill.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories: You might need to chug a pain-killer with your antioxidant juice. Ibuprofen can work wonders. Don’t take so much you think you can run a marathon. Remember, you need rest!
Stretch: It’s time to put those yoga moves you learned to good use. Just do the easiest poses possible and slowly let your muscles relax as you breathe into each stretch. Keeping your muscles loose and limber will be the god-send you’re praying for.
Weight lifting and resistance training doesn’t have to suck. Armed with an arsenal of info about DOMS (and why it’s not a necessary evil) will put some swag in your steps along your weight loss and fitness journey. You’re still an Amazonian Warrior Queen, only now you’ll feel like one outside the gym too.
Have you had the DOMS? Could you walk up the stairs without crying? What did you do to help it?
Author Bio: Angela is a freelance copywriter from Ottawa who loves road cycling, squatting heavy and finding adventure with her black mini- schnauzer, Spokes. She can be usually be found scarfing down tacos or reading a book.