Is it Just Muscle Soreness or an Injury?

One of our patients, James, at our Chiswick clinic, recently started a weight training program and asked our Physiotherapist about the intense soreness in his legs following squat and lunge sessions – he was unsure if this response was normal or if there was an injury involved.

It is extremely common to experience periods of soreness following the performance of unaccustomed exercise, and being new to the gym it is highly likely that some of the movements our patient had been doing in his training are new or done with greater loads than may have used before.

The actual medical term for the pain we are speaking about is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – usually referred to as DOMS. The classic DOMS sufferer describes a dull ache that develops 24-48 hours after the performance of new or strenuous exercise. DOMS can also result in a short term loss of muscle strength, reduced joint range of motion and possibly swelling of the effected muscle groups. The development of DOMS is increased if your activity involves a large amount of eccentric exercise (exercise where the muscles are contracting whilst lengthening) – examples being downhill running and slow lowering of the weight to the chest during Bench Press.

The exact cause of DOMS is a little unclear – however some possible explanations put forward by medical experts include the build-up of lactic acid, muscle spasm, torn connective tissue and damaged muscle fibres. To minimise development of DOMS the following suggestions need to be followed:

  • Take it slow and gradually build up the amount of exercise you do in your program – remember Rome was not built in a day
  • Do not increase your sets, reps and weights by more than 10% per week
  • Be aware of the amount of eccentric exercise you are including in your workouts
  • Ensure you do a thorough cool down following your workout – many of us would have seen footballers doing gentle running and cool down drills after their games – this is one of the reasons why.

The good news is that most cases of DOMS gradually subside and have no lasting effects – however if the following applies to you then it is best to seek the advice of your local Physiotherapist:

  • The pain is still present and not resolving more than 48 hours post exercise.
  • The pain came on during the exercise (not the day after) and was more sudden in onset.
  • The pain is located in and around the joints and not just limited to muscles.
  • There is swelling and discomfort in and around the joints.

If you are unsure, please contact us. We’ll be happy to offer you free advice!

All the best

BUC =)

 

Leslie Abrahams

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