Nothing is as anti aging and youthful as a toned body. It exudes health and wellness. The right amount of exercise can leave you energized, invigorated and feeling fit and healthy. However, unless you build up slowly and are consistent, you may be prone to muscle pain, soreness and stiffness. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) develops 24-48 hours after strenuous exercise. It is characterized by pain, stiffness, loss of strength and limited range of motion with elevated levels of creatinine kinase in the blood which is an enzyme found in muscle that is released when it breaks down. The mechanism is microtrauma to muscles with release of creatinine kinase and then microtrauma to surrounding connective tissues. This is followed by inflammation and shifts of fluid and electrolytes. This can last for several days and limit function and activity causing a setback in getting and staying fit. Here are some ways to prevent and alleviate that pain.
Supplements and anti inflammatory medication
Studies indicate that certain supplements can prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), which occurs when free radicals cause oxidation and inflammation of tissues.
- Curcumin – study subjects starting 200 mg of curcumin twice a day 48 hours prior to a downhill running test had reduced muscle pain. They also had less muscle damage on MRI and reduced markers of inflammation such as interleukin (IL 8).
- Enzymes– bromelain and papain, given to study subjects lowered levels of inflammatory markers and increased strength compared to those who did not receive the supplement.
- L carnitine –has been shown to decrease tissue damage. This is thought to be due to enhancing blood flow and oxygen to the tissues and decreasing stress from low oxygen.
- Ibuprofen – decreased muscle soreness after exercise but didn’t lower the enzyme creatinine kinase that is released when muscle breaks down until 48 hours later, nor did it improve strength or flexibility. It just decreased soreness
- Massage not only feels good, it decreased soreness, stiffness and pain to touch as well as lowered the enzyme that is released from muscle breakdown. It reduced delayed onset muscle soreness by 30% but did not have an effect on muscle function.
- Protein ingestion of 40 grams of essential amino acids immediately after exercise reduced muscle soreness and increased strength and power after 48 hours while those who did not ingest protein remained weaker and had more pain up to 72 hours. Other studies showed benefit using branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Another regimen that worked was to ingest protein immediately after exercise and two doses daily for the next 4 days.
Stretching for stiffness not soreness
- Stretching did not have an effect on muscle soreness and the markers of muscle breakdown but did improve muscle stiffness if performed several days in a row.
- Heat – dry heat for 8 hours or moist heat for 2 hours applied immediately preserved muscle strength and muscle activity. Using moist heat reduced pain more in less time.
Many other supplements and modalities were tried but did not work. These had the best effects. If you know you will be doing more than your usual routine, try some or all of these to reduce the soreness that comes from overexertion and prevent setbacks. Exercise has so many benefits you won’t want to miss a session.