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Ouch! Why do I ache so much after a session?

We’ve all been there: After that tentative walk up the stairs after leaving the gym, we then experience that love/hate cycle of performing day to day tasks the day after, or even the day after the day after leg day. But why?

It’s called DOMS. Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness, which tends to kick in from as soon as six to eight hours, yet peaks around 48 – 72 hours after that grueling session at the gym. While lower body soreness tends to be more inhibiting and memorable (especially when it comes getting off the toilet!), the painful sensation certainly isn’t limited to the legs. DOMS can occur anywhere in the body that has recently been exposed to unaccustomed or intense physical activity.

Despite the inconvenience of a bout of DOMS, a commonly held belief among trainees is that this soreness translates to progress, a job well done; and one step closer to your goals. When our muscles are required to work harder than they’re used to, or in a different way, it causes microscopic damage to the muscle fiber’s, resulting in muscle soreness or stiffness. DOMS is regularly mistaken to be believed by the cause of lactic acid build up; however, lactic acid is not involved in the process what so ever!

The good news is that the pain will decrease as your muscles get used to the new physical demands and exercises being placed upon them. The soreness is part of an adaptation process that leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover and build. So unless you push yourself even harder after your next session at the gym, you’re unlikely to develop DOMS so soon.

So next time you get caught sliding down the stairs on your bum due to yesterday’s session – Embrace it! You’re muscles are getting stronger. YOU are getting stronger!


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