We have all experienced this at some point. The roll over in bed the day after a a hard walk, run or ride. “Uh oh” we say as we lift ourselves up and out of the snuggly bed covers. For the next day or 3 you are reminded of your enthusiasm whenever you get on and off the toilet or go laugh at a joke with sore abs.
This lovely feeling is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS for short. It’s also sometimes called “muscle fever” which is a new one to us but I quite like it. The sciencey reason about what the actual causes are unclear but it involves microscopic trauma to the tissue.
The main reasons why you might wake up with DOMS is that you did significantly more to your muscles than your body was used to. This includes taking up a new novel activity, returning from a layoff or really increasing the amount that you were already doing.
Certain actions of the muscle are known to be far more likely than others to cause the dreaded muscle fever. Actions like the lowering portion of bodyweight or weighted exercises. Also things like the quads and calves when walking down hill and landing as you run. This part of the movement is called the eccentric portion and when exaggerated is a great way to get really strong – but also make you second guess taking the stairs. Unfortunately or fortunately depending how you see it taking the stairs would be the best thing you can do to loosen up the stiffness and reduce some soreness.
This brings us to the next part of DOMS. It doesn’t get worse. Due to how awesome our body is, the next time you do something similar your muscles will be ready for it and the response will be far less soreness if any at all. Which is a bummer for those of us who enjoy feeling those training sessions long after they are completed. Soreness in the legs and butt can be very memorable but hard to replicate.
In summary don’t let DOMS put you off from continuing that activity. In general it will disappear within 48 hours and unless you are going hard doing random activities or every session increasing the work done by massive amounts you should not be constantly sore.
So get out there and enjoy what your body can do and if your muscles get a little bit sore enjoy that to.