Despite the wintry weather, January is one of the most popular times of year for people to take up sport or exercise for the first time, or to return to sport after a break.
This is typically because of new year’s resolutions which, although always based on good intentions, are famous for rarely lasting beyond the first few weeks of the year.
One of the most common reasons for breaking a sports or fitness new year resolution is injury or acute fatigue: injuries occur very easily among people who aren’t used to exercising, or who rush in and push themselves too hard instead of building up activity gradually.
It’s not just injuries that cause problems, though: Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (or DOMS) is a perennial problem for people who are not accustomed to exercising.
What is DOMS?
As its name suggests, DOMS is muscle soreness that is caused by exercising or exertion: it will be familiar to anybody who has woken up the day after exercising to find they feel fine, only to discover their muscles hurt later on in the day.
The length of the ‘delay’ can vary depending on the individual and the level and type of exercise they were doing: the symptoms are usually felt most keenly between 24 and 72 hours after the exercise.
DOMS is caused by myofibril tears (muscle strains). The microtrauma results in an inflammatory response – swelling basically – and pain, which can impair muscle strength, motions and function in DOMS sufferers.
In short, when you’re suffering from DOMS, it can be very easy to not feel like doing any further exercise.
DOMS can actually affect anybody – it is part and parcel of exercising – but it can be a huge deterrent to people who aren’t accustomed to it.
Don’t give up on exercise or on your resolutions, though! There are things you can do to prevent and treat DOMS: one of our preferred methods is sports massage.
Is it DOMS or an injury?
This is the crucial first step to take before receiving any treatment.
It is also one of the benefits of attending Newcastle Sports Injury Clinic: our sports massage therapists work in tandem with our physiotherapists. We will examine you to establish the cause of the problem and, if the issue is actually an injury and not just muscle soreness, then we will recommend you undergo different treatment with a physiotherapist instead.
This is one of the reasons we never recommend people ‘guess’ at what is wrong with them. Muscle soreness can mask injuries which, if not treated correctly, can become much worse
How can sports massage help DOMS?
Regular maintenance sports massage aims to maintain muscular elasticity and suppleness, therefore, decreasing the opportunity for muscle injuries to develop.
Pre-event sports massage can be applied anywhere from 48 hours to 2 minutes before an event. Post-event massage can help reduce DOMs severity, help remove waste products, normalise body temperature, blood circulation and muscle function.
How to fit sports massage into your training schedule?
Sports massage can be applied throughout different stages of your training schedule to suit your needs.
It is recommended to wait 24 hours to exercise after a sports massage. This is because your muscle will be in a more relaxed state and need time to repair and recover following the deep soft tissue techniques used. Sports massage can, however, be altered to a lighter technique if you are participating in your sport on the same day.
Can I just wait instead?
It is possible just to wait for the symptoms of DOMS to subside. However, we would urge caution with taking this approach: even slight muscle soreness or stiffness can make you change the way you move or run, which can lead to worse problems in the future.
We would always recommend getting your muscle issues looked at by a professional who can help make sure you are adopting the right approach and will ensure you don’t make your problems worse.
Contact us on 0191 233 0500 for more information and we can make an appointment with the correct person to meet your needs. Alternatively, you can book an appointment with any of our physiotherapists via this link.