Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), is the official name for stiff muscles and we all know what that is, right?

Actually, the soreness you feel in your muscles after exercise is caused by microscopic tears in the muscle tissue. It happens when the muscles are under more stress than they’re used too, so you might think it’s a bad thing. BUT, if you want to increase muscle tissue, it seems there’s no other way than to get stiff…

Whilst we often judge how good our workout was by how stiff we are the next day, making too big a jump in your weight bearing, distance or reps isn’t always a good thing.

Whilst those tiny fibres are damaged and healing, there can be referred stress put on the surrounding muscle fibres, which can lead to damage there. Think of those fibres doing more work than usual while the torn ones are healing. Calcium also accumulates inside the cells of the muscles which switches on certain enzymes, leading to a breakdown of muscle protein – completely the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve!

It is highly unlikely though, that the work we do in Ad Astra classes will lead to real damage or detrimental effects (unless of course you count not being able to get up off the toilet!), however I always get you warming up to begin with and stretching at the end of class, and encourage you to do more at home too.

How to relieve DOMS

The first thing to do to help alleviate DOMS is warm up! Before exercising, dynamic warm up moves such as toe reaches, gentle lunges and squats, back twists with arms to the side etc are best. We’re preparing the muscles to move so there’s less shock. Cool down stretches, whilst feeling good aren’t necessarily going to stop DOMS as you probably already know. However, I do want you to continue stretching the next day and every day if you can, even if you don’t feel stiffness.

Massage – I can recommend an excellent sport massage therapist local to Carterton, but foam rolling, pressure point balls and self-massage, with or without a mechanical aid are good too.

Steaming bath – not too hot, but warm enough to steam. Maybe with some added Epsom salts or lavender to help the muscles relax and breath in the healing scents.

Contrast heat therapy – Not as pleasant as the first three solutions but swapping from very warm to cold compression can help relieve stiff muscles.

DOMS = bigger muscles

If you want your muscle tone to improve, you will need to keep using them, if you want bigger muscles, you will need to keep stressing them…

Have you noticed that you don’t feel as stiff after the same class has been repeated for a while? Those damaged muscle fibres are healing stronger and larger, to protect themselves – until you go up a weight, or hold a pose for longer! And it’s one reason the Body Max tracks change after six weeks…

Ad Astra members have noticed DOMS after most classes, but especially Body Max (aka Pump), Vinyasa Yoga and Pilates Flex. These classes are complimentary to each other, using the body in different ways and so relieving muscle soreness while still working the body. If you’ve got any questions, I love talking, so message me from the Facebook page or fill out the contact form above.

Ready to get stiff? Find your class here: Ad Astra Class Booking, or find them listed in Facebook Events.