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Training Soreness or an Actual Problem - Should you be Concerned?

There are many people just coming out of a variety of different fitness challenges that vary in length. At this time you may be wondering if you should be concerned about not being able to get out of bed due to pain in the abbs from the 3 sets till failure worth of sit-ups you did the day before, or just tough it out. This article aims to summarise the ins and outs of what to look for with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS for short), when to take a break, or how to identify if a type of pain is more serious and needs to be assessed by professional.

Training Soreness

Nearly everyone who has trained before whether that be for sports or in a gym-based setting will have experienced DOMS before. It is caused by microscopic muscle strains which causes a low grade inflammatory response that is accompanied with changes in the fluid and electrolyte balances within the tissue. It has a number of hallmark features which are usually as follows:

- A general dull muscle ache which can happen over a period of 24 to 48 hours after either starting a new exercise or progressing the reps, sets or movement of an existing exercise

- The ache usually encompasses the entirety of the muscle group not just one particular “point”

- Muscle stiffness and tenderness to touch

- Pain with stretching the affected muscle group(s)

- Reduced range of movement of the joints that use the affected muscle group. For example, quad stretches can become a very painful affair the day or two after squats

- Mild swelling in the affected muscle group

Depending on the way you look at it the good news is that this type of pain often gets better after you’ve been moving for a short period of time and the muscle group warms up. If you’re looking for a quicker turn-around to recover from DOMS the best things to do are;

- Heat

- GENTLE massage. Deep tissue massage in the 24 to 48 hour time frame can aggravate symptoms.

- Compression clothing/equipment

- Avoid aggressive exercise and stretching during the initial 24 to 48 hour time frame

Pathological Pain

This is the area that Physiotherapy can help the most with. It’s usually pretty easy to figure out acute injuries like rolling your ankle, thinking that it shouldn’t bend like that and perhaps it needs a rest. Overuse injuries are usually the harder type of issue to identify as an actual problem and not a DOMS issue that can we worked through. Things to look out for with problems that need to be looked at are;

- Very specific pain location. Can be felt as a dot, a line or a shooting pain

- Sharp sensation with movement

- Neurological symptoms such as burning sensation, parasthesia (pins and needles) and numbness, as well as a severe loss in coordination and/or loss in muscle recruitment

- Pain that does not get better with exercise. Instead it goes the other way and gets worse!

- Pain that can linger for longer than 48 hours

- Bruising over the painful area

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to rehabilitating an overtraining or acute injury as different problems require different approaches. As a general rule though it is always best to have a problem area looked at before it gets worse if you are unsure. As the saying goes – “the longer you leave it, the longer it takes to get better”.

When to take a break

This is something that many in the fitness/sporting community have difficulty with, myself included. The things to look out for when you need to take a break could be any of the following after an extended period of training.

- Lack of progression with training

- Insominia/difficulty sleeping

- Feelings of low energy and bad moods (not hangry related)

- Increased heart rate or blood pressure

Physio, overtraining, gym, fitness, DOMS
Where will you be when the need to sleep strikes?

The solution with this is easy – take a break! This means take a break for longer than 1 day, usually 1 week is best but it can vary.

If you are ever unsure feel free to come by PhysioLogix Physiotherapy in North Perth and Malaga and have a chat, give us a call on 045 007 5955 or book an appointment online through this link

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