On Sunday I had a severe case of DOMS. I’m sure you have had that too at some point?
What is DOMS?
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. When you do a new exercise, or change your routine to target a different muscle group, the muscles involved will hurt between 24 and 48 hours later. It can provide some unintentionally hilarious results. You might find that you have to crawl out of bed sideways or that sitting down becomes a slow and delicate procedure, or that walking becomes a noticeable hobble.
It’s the body’s way of adapting to a new exercise and the ache is caused by micro-tears in the muscle fibres. The next time you do the new exercise the effect won’t be as bad. So as long as you don’t over exert yourself, and keep stretching and maintaining good blood flow to the affected muscles, DOMS is not a bad thing. It shows the body is responding to new stuff.
DOMS also highlights the need to change your exercise routines frequently otherwise the body becomes used to the movement and any training effect is reduced.
The first time I experienced DOMS was after my first Body Pump class. This was long before fitness bug consumed me and decided to train to be an instructor – I had to be dragged along to the class against my will. Once there I did not want to look “weak in front of the other guys”. I used weights that were really too heavy for a first timer. I got through the class with it’s hundreds of squats, lunges and bicep curls and admitted to the person who dragged me along that I had really enjoyed it. But the following day my quads were burning with a high intensity of pain. I couldn’t walk but I couldn’t sit down either. I had to put hot water bottles on my legs to soothe the pain.
This week I launched the new releases of Body Combat and Body Balance to my class participants (read about the new music and moves here). The former contains martial arts routines with over 100 powerful side kicks. The later has a standing strength routine of deep Yoga Warrior poses that lasts nearly 10 minutes. The combined effect of this has been DOMS worse than I have experienced in a long while.
I know my participants have felt it too. I’ve seen them post comments on twitter. They feel the aches and pain, but soon they’ll see the gain, and that makes it so worthwhile.
So be proud of your DOMS. Love your DOMS because it is your body telling you that the effort you are putting into your exercise is working.
Over to you: I’d love to hear your stories about how you have experienced change from your exercise. From really bad DOMS, to a visible tightening of the tummy muscles, please post a comment and share.