small-runners legs maleIf you go running, lift weights or engage in arduous activity like a long hike, you probably feel good right afterwards. But after two days, you notice soreness and stiffness have suddenly appeared all over your body, especially in your legs, making walking a chore. This condition is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS for short.

The delayed nature of muscle pain after hard exercise is due to the time it takes for offending biochemicals to build up to levels that are irritating to sensory nerves surrounding your muscles. These biochemicals are creatine kinase or creatine phosphokinase (CPK), hydroxyproline and lactate dehydrogenase.  They are normally released in response to muscle breakdown, which occurs with rigorous exercise.  This process is called catabolism (Anabolism is the build-up of muscle tissue, which also occurs with exercise, especially weight lifting).

The prospect of being sore all over can discourage exercise, which you don’t want to do as exercise improves numerous health metrics such as blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, lean body mass, aerobic capacity and stronger bones and joints.  Instead of being discouraged from exercise, take steps to minimize DOMS and manage it so that it isn’t a problem.

Self Treatment for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

1. Immediately after your exercise, fill your bathtub with cold water and soak in it for 20-30 minutes. This dampens the low-grade inflammatory reaction occurring in your muscles from arduous exercise. If your water isn’t cool enough, add some ice cubes.

2. Re-hydrate your body with a quart of coconut water.

3. When you feel DOMS approaching (about 12-18 hours after your activity), soak in cold water again and then follow it up with a warm Epsom salt bath, with some boswellia and lavender essential oils added in.

4. Follow your bath with a 20 minute infrared sauna session; dry off and apply Penetrex to your muscles.

5. Do not aggressively stretch your legs during DOMS, just wait for the pain to go down, and then do light stretches.

Recommended Lifestyle Changes

1. Exercise regularly to keep your muscles toned and conditioned. Engage in short distance running, aerobic exercises, and functional exercises.

2. Consume complete protein six hours and two hours before your activity. I recommend a whey protein or pea protein smoothie (blend with almond milk or coconut milk). Throw in a raw egg as well.  Whey and egg protein have high bioavailability compared to meat, and therefore can be assimilated easier for your body’s use.

3. Take Curcumin and Astaxanthin supplements. These are potent anti-oxidants that can help your body neutralize free radicals generated by exercise. Make sure to take with a meal that contains some fat, as curcumin is not water soluble.

4. Warm up for ten minutes before you do the extreme stuff: stretches, squats, jumps, running in place.

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