A common experience for those new to exercise, or possibly anyone for that matter after a workout, is having sore muscles or delayed onset muscle soreness. This occurs after strenuous or irregular exercise and it can be best described as a dull muscle ache, combined with muscle stiffness and muscle tenderness.
If you have tried to walk up a set of stairs after leg day, well you know exactly what I am talking about!
DOMS are caused by microscopic tears in your muscle fibres and as a result your body responds to those tears by increasing inflammation to help repair the muscles. As much as this sounds scary, this is completely normal. By repairing damaged muscle fibres, your body builds muscle.
Unfortunately, we can't avoid sore muscles entirely but there are a few ways to help ease the aches and pains associated with DOMS.
Keep moving. The last thing you should do is sink into the couch (as tempting as that is). Remaining still can actually prolong your recovery time. So with that said, consider a walk outside or some form of light activity to keep yourself moving. This will ensure a proper recovery.
Light stretching. As well as keeping your body moving, it's also a great idea to lightly stretch out the sore muscles. It's a great way to relieve that tight muscle feeling while being able to increase your range of motion. A foam roller would be great to utilise along-side body weight stretches.
A common misconception is that if you're not feeling sore after your workout you didn't try hard enough. But that's far from the truth. Just because you don't experience DOMS doesn't mean you didn't smash your workout, or doesn't mean you're not going to get results.
If you do experience DOMS, know that it's normal but not something that is a determinant of progress.*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.