In light of the tough workouts I have coming this weekend (long run + obstacle course training = wide spread pain!), I decided to do a literature search of what I can do to help with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) without taking handfuls of ibuprofen.
When I posted this idea on my personal Facebook page, my trainer/friend said, essentially, to enjoy it now because I will miss DOMS and the muscle building stage. To which I mentally replied:
I’ll let you know in about eight billion years if that ever happens. Meanwhile, I will keep track of what the “experts” say. It should be noted that the medical community has essentially issued a big, fat “Huh!” on this. There are many, MANY conflicting studies that have very small subject groups. Just about all of them end with a line about how further studies in this area are needed. Ya think??
About half-way through my search, I found a fairly exhaustive website that cited many of the same articles I was planning to use so, to save reinventing the wheel, I will just link there: fellrnr.com/wiki/Delayed_Onset_Muscle_Soreness
Here is his chart for the click-adverse:
|Repeated Bout Effect||Before (days to months)||Strong evidence of reduced soreness||Some evidence of reduced weakness||None|
|Carbohydrate and/or protein||After||Some evidence of reduced soreness||Strong evidence of reduced weakness||None|
|Cadence||During||Some evidence of reduced soreness||Some evidence of reduced soreness||None|
|Compression Clothing||After||Some evidence of reduced soreness||Some evidence of reduced weakness||None|
|Caffeine||After||Some evidence of reduced soreness||Some evidence of reduced weakness||Nonea|
|Massage||After||Some evidence of reduced soreness||No benefit||None|
|Warmup||Immediately before||Some evidence of reduced soreness||No benefit||None|
|Light Exercise||After||Transient pain reduction||No benefit||Nonec|
|TENS||After||Transient pain reduction||No benefit||None|
|Icing||After||No benefit||No benefit||Noneb|
|Antioxidents||Before and/or After||Mixed evidence||Mixed evidence||Conflicting evidence of reduced Endurance Adaptations|
|Stretching||Before and/or After||No benefit||No benefit||
|NSAIDs||Before and/or After||Most evidence indicates no benefit||Most evidence indicates no benefit||Can impair recovery|
My only quibble is with his statement that there is no benefit from cryotherapy. From all of the literature I reviewed, the researchers leaned in favor (albeit marginally) to using ice/ice baths. Also, I found no study that suggest that increasing water intake (another common suggestion) helps with DOMS.
My personal plans for managing DOMS (no, there is no avoiding it at this stage):
1. I will have a protein/carbohydrate rich snack after exercising. I have a pumpkin bar recipe made with almond flour that should do nicely!
2. I will continue with light exercise every few hours. One of my biggest problems is the fact that I have a very sedentary job and everything tightens up during the day. I will take regular (light) stretching breaks, utilize the foam roller that I keep in my office, and take a couple of walks during the day.
3. I will take an ice bath after my long run. I did this after two half marathons but not the third and I did notice a difference in how my legs/hips felt. I will also use ice packs on my arms.
4. I will schedule a sports massage. Score!
5. I personally have had good luck with Arnica cream, though all of the studies I found say it doesn’t help.
I may also weep quietly in the corner and walk like Frankenstein for a few days but really, who’s going to notice the difference 😉
What do you do to manage DOMS?