Ouch! Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

(Due to server errors this is being reposted after originally being posted on December 18th, 2009)

It’s the time of the year when people make those resolutions. You know the same ones we here every year: “I’m going to start taking better care of myself by exercising and eating right”.

You should be welcomed with open arms and applauded for taking the initiative toward better health. Statistics show a tremendous drop in exercise adherence after the first several weeks following the initiation of a new exercise regime. There are many reasons for this that are physical or psychological or both.

Ours is a society that wants things NOW. Therefore, all too often the previously sedentary person attempts advanced moves and to pick up where they left off 3 years ago…all on day one. On the next day they start to think that that might not have been a good idea. And two days after that first workout, they know that that wasn’t a good idea. It is forty-eight hours after a workout when delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is at its peak. This is one of the most important events in shaping the attitudes of a new or renewing exerciser. It is the attitudes and beliefs about exercise that will keep them coming back, or throwing in the proverbial towel.

If the new exerciser does not know that DOMS in moderation is a positive benefit from exercise, they may not come back. If they do not know that it comes from micro damage to the muscle fibers and that they can control how much micro damage occurs (by reducing weight lifted, reps, etc.), they will not come back. And if they do not know that mild to moderate cardiovascular exercise can actually reduce DOMS by flushing the waste from the muscles, they may not see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Here are a few suggestions that anyone can use to see that new exercisers become seasoned exercisers by sticking with the health benefits of a regular regime:

1. Understand that there is often a transitional period of slight or moderate muscle soreness that might occur from new uses of the muscles.

2. Know that muscle soreness is OK, but joint pain, swelling and any sharp or localized pain is a sign that something is wrong and a qualified professional should evaluate them.

3. Get help. A qualified fitness professional can provide you with many safe and effective alternatives to properly work the body. The new exerciser will not know what their limits are until it is too late. (Check what our personal training services offer here)

4. Find a partner or work out with a small group so you can communicate with someone who might be experiencing similar challenges and provide each other with support.

Keeping the new exerciser invested in their health is good for all of us. It is good for the individual’s longevity and quality of life and it is good for society as a whole because it is one less person burdening our health care systems.

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