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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: Part III

Posted Jan 15 2009 5:04pm
In Part 1 of this series Matt (aka The Fitness Nerd ) addressed the symptoms of DOMS while in Part II Matt took a close look at what specifically causes DOMS.

Matt now tackles possible remedies for DOMS.

Preventing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Techniques for preventing - or at least minimizing - DOMS are controversial. Indeed, some would argue that little bit of muscle soreness isn't something to worry about - especially if it doesn't interfere with your training.

However, since a severe case of DOMS can prevent you from training according to schedule, many people are interested in lessening the severity of post-exercise muscle soreness. There are a number of training techniques and nutritional angles you might experiment with, all with varying degrees of effectiveness and clinical "proof" to back them up.

DOMS Remedies That Have Not Been Proven To Work

First, let's look at the techniques for treating or preventing DOMS that do not have solid clinical research behind them. That doesn't mean they won't work for you, but rather that they haven't been studied in-depth, so their effectiveness is highly subjective.

L- Glutamine
Glutamine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body and is critical to protein synthesis, digestion, immune function and possibly preventing muscle catabolism by blunting cortisol levels (a hormone that is released when the body is under stress).

While Glutamine is plentiful in the body, because it is so widely utilized, it can also be depleted quickly. Many people report that supplementing with L- Glutamine before their weight training or running - as well as immediately after - can reduce the severity of DOMS.

However, there appears to be no peer- reviewed, published, clinical research to validate these claims. You can try it for yourself and if it works, fine, but otherwise there is not an established correlation between L- Glutamine supplementation and reduced muscle soreness after exercise.

Whey Powder and Macro-Nutrients
Diet may also play a role in the severity of DOMS as a result of intense exercise. However, this has not been extensively studied.

Because of the structural and cellular damage that training can wreck on the muscle, providing sufficient recovery nutrition is critical. Increasing both protein and complex carbohydrates may provide the muscle with the nutrients it needs to repair the damage and grow stronger.

Anecdotally, some people report less severe symptoms of DOMS when they increase protein consumption to a minimum of one gram per pound of lean body mass. This may be one of the reasons that a post-workout whey protein shake has been clinically shown to increase lean body mass.

There is also a myth - especially among runners - that DOMS may be exacerbated by low hydration levels.

While proper hydration is important to athletes and runners for a wide-range of reasons, there is no direct correlations (nor any clinical research) to indicate that DOMS is caused by lack of water or prevented by better hydration. So while drinking more water is generally a good idea, don't expect it to keep your muscles from becoming sore after training.

Stretching & Massage
Surprisingly, there is very little evidence to suggest that stretching or post-workout massage can alleviate or prevent DOMS. A 2007 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that pre -exercise static stretching had no preventative effect on post-exercise muscle soreness, tenderness or loss of force in eccentric exercise.

In fact, there is no real explanation from stretching advocates as to why muscle stretching - either before, during or after - exercise should relieve DOMS.

Generally, theories around massage and stretching have focused on the ability of these activities to "clear" lactic acid or "toxins" from muscle tissue. However, as we discussed earlier, lactic acid build up has been eliminated as a cause of DOMS. The body does a fine job clearing L-lactate on it's own.

While stretching a sore muscle may help increase mobility - or at least the sense of mobility - it hasn't been shown to actually alleviate DOMS.

Train hard; stay strong.



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