What Causes Muscle Ache After A Workout And How Can You Minimise It?

What causes muscle ache after a workout and how can you minimise it? Trainer Gavin Walsh explains.Creatine Muscle Builder

Is it normal to have muscle pain in the days after a workout?

Absolutely. and It's a good thing – although you're probably cursing every time you try to stand up, walk down stairs or put your packet on. The aches are the painful proof that you've pushed your muscles beyond their comfort zone and broken down fibres with your hard work. This pain is called delayed onset muscle soreness. or DOMS.

How is pain a good thing?

Because it means your muscles are going to grow back bigger and stronger. When you lift weights, the stress causes microscopic tears in your muscle fibres, especially during the eccentric – or lowering – part of a move (see box below). It's these tiny tears that your body repairs and rebuilds bigger and stronger so that your muscles can cope with lifting weight the next time they're asked to.

The pain means your muscles are going to grow back bigger and stronger

How long does it hut?

It can be felt as soon as couple of hours after a session, but the soreness usually peaks between 24 to 72 hours afterwards before subsiding. You should only feel these pains when the muscle Is being stretched or contracted. not when at rest If a muscle hurts all the time then it could be a muscle tear or strain.

How can I prevent It?

You can't. It's part of the muscle. building process, and can be especially acute when you use a weight heavier than your muscles are accustomed to, perform reps more slowly than normal, or rest for shorter periods between sets. These all place greater strain on your muscles, which causes greater damage to the cells. However, some methods may be effective at reducing the Intensity of the pain.

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What are the best ways to minimise DOMS?

You could stick to concentric and isometric contractions. but this approach isn't practical – all big moves have an eccentric part – and besides, it won't be as effective at building muscle. It's better to ease Into a new workout programm, gradually getting your muscles used to the new stimulus. If It's too late for that, then any activity that Increases blood flow Into the muscle can ease the pain. Try low Intenslty cardioan easy walk or gentle ride – a hot bath, sauna or massage.

What about an ice bath?

Ice baths and cold-water Immersion treatments are used by professional athletes to reduce post-workout soreness, but scientists are split over their effectiveness, Some studies show a link between Ice baths and faster recovery but others found no link. One Australian study even reported that subjects who had an Ice bath had more severe DOMS than a control group.

What about a quality warm-up and warm-down?

Though you should always bookend sessions with gentle exercises to warm up and warm down, they'll have no Impact on DOMS. And don't stretch the muscles you've worked straight after the session: long. static hold stretches can actually cause greater tears let the muscle tissues. resulting In even more soreness.

Muscle movements

All movements begin with one of three muscle contractions pulling on a joint to mobilise your skeleton. Concentric contractions are when muscles shorten while generating force – these are generally responsible for the lifting part of an exercise.

Isometric contractions are when muscles generate force without changing length, such as your abs during a plank Eccentric contractions occur when muscles lengthen under tension when controlling a weight, such as the lowering phase of a lift Heavy eccentric loads can cause the maximum amount of damage to your muscles. That's why it's always important to lower a weight slowly and under control. Not only does this minimise the risk of injury, but it also makes each rep more effective.

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