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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: Part IV

Posted Jan 22 2009 4:02pm
Welcome to Part IV of our series on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness by contributor Matt (aka The Fitness Nerd) over at AnswerFitness.

In Part I of this series Matt (aka The Fitness Nerd ) addressed the symptoms of DOMS, whilePart II took a close look at what specifically causes DOMS. Part III began to address remedies for DOMS and we'll continue that discussion in today's posting.

Techniques For Reduced DOMS ThatMayWork

There are a couple of treatments for DOMS that appear to be promising, even though the clinical research is mixed. They include:

Vitamins and Antioxidants

The connection between certain vitamins and antioxidants and reductions in the symptoms and severity of DOMS is still being studied. While research is sparse, there are a few clinical studies which have shown vitamin or antioxidant supplementation as a promising treatment for DOMS.

Theoretically, supplementation with antioxidants makes sense: Damage to cells during intense exercise can produce free radicals, which may then cause secondary, additional damage to tissue until those free radicals are neutralized by the body. Vitamins and compounds in certain food that have high antioxidant properties may assist in helping the body blunt free radicals.

In terms of Vitamin C, there are a few well-controlled studies on the effectiveness of Vitamin C supplementation in preventing and treating DOMS.

The most encouraging study was conducted by Kaminski and Boal and it did show that subjects who were treated with 1 gram of Vitamin C three times a day before "induced calf muscle damage" and then continued the supplement regime for seven days, showed reductions in reported soreness ratings from 25 - 44%. However, there appears to be no additional studies either to refute or confirm these results. There were also some methodology limitations to the study.

So, while Vitamin C may be effective at reducing DOMS, the connection has not been well studied.

Vitamin E however has been more extensively researched as a treatment and preventative for DOMS. Even here, the results were mixed. Two studies showed reductions in muscle soreness or reduced chemical markers of cell damage - as well as improved recovery - with Vitamin E supplementation pre-exercise (the Vtiamin E was taken for several days prior to training). Two other studies - one conducted in rats and another in humans - reported no effect of Vitamin E supplementation on reduction in muscle damage or symptoms of DOMS.

The inconsistencies could be the result of mixed human-animal studies as well as differences in mode of exercise and supplementation routines and concentrations. So the jury is still out on this one.

Other food compounds high in antioxidants like Green Tea, White Tea or Black Tea - as well as Goji Berries, Pomegranates, Tart Cherry Juice, Blueberries and Acai - have not been specifically studied as a treatment for DOMS. In theory, they may have similar effect as other antioxidants like Vitamin C or Vitamin E, but research is thin.

Because these foods are generally harmless, and have other beneficial healthy properties, experimenting around with them as a DOMS treatment probably won't hurt.

L-Carnitine, Arnica 30 and Coenzyme-Q

There are additional supplements which have been studied as possible treatments for DOMS.

Again, clinical-results are mixed. There is some evidence that Arnica 30, a homeopathic compound, may have a protective effect in runners, but another study refuted this. L-Carnitine did produce lessened symptoms of DOMS in untrained subjects, but the study size was very small - only 6 subjects. Coenzyme-Q (dietary ubiquinone) showed no effect on antioxidant activity, and actually may have increased cellular damage according to one study.


Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Since inflammation is one of the main physical markers of DOMS, conventional wisdom would say that over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen or even Aspirin should be effective in reducing the symptoms of DOMS.

However, clinical research is decidedly mixed around this, with the preponderance of the evidence showing that NSAIDs are not particularly effective for treating or preventing DOMS.

In fact, a few studies have shown that certain NSAIDs may actually increase cellular damage from eccentric exercise. There are some studies that demonstrate the contrary, but the prevailing attitude toward NSAIDs is that they don't work in treating or preventing DOMS.

Some research also suggests that the use of NSAIDs could result in less lean muscle gain and strength by interfering with protein synthesis. And since that is probably your goal for resistance training in the first place, you might just want to skip the Ibuprofen and "grin and bear it".

Train hard; stay strong.

Peace.

Susan

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