Fitness Mantra: Pain... no gain

Don’t take sore muscles lightly.

January 03, 2015 03:13 pm | Updated 03:13 pm IST

Strenuous exercise leads to muscle, fibre and membrane damage. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Strenuous exercise leads to muscle, fibre and membrane damage. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness or DOMS occurs when one overdoes or over-exerts oneself with workouts. The pain usually appears 24-48 hours after strenuous exercises like heavy weightlifting, long distance or very fast running, a high intensity workout or extreme stretches. If you ignore this and continue with the workout it can lead to a range of problems.

Studies show that DOMS occurs in the following manner: Strenuous Exercise leads to muscle, fibre and membrane damage. This in turn causes calcium leaks into the muscle and leads to breakdown of cellular protein. This sets off an inflammatory response otherwise known as DOMS. According to Professor David O. Draper from Brigham Young University, “DOMS is a common result of physical activity that stresses the muscle tissue beyond what it is accustomed to.”

The main reasons for DOMS are strenuous exercise, working out for a long time or exercising after a long break. Even an unusual sporting activity like long-distance running or playing intense sports like cricket or football can cause soreness.

The best way to avoid muscle soreness is to stretch gently before beginning, between the sets and after the session. Modify the fitness routine so that it progresses slowly and steadily. The muscles should be pushed or challenged over time and the build-up should be slow.

There are different ways of treating muscles soreness: gentle stretching, massage, light speed walking/jogging. In severe cases, anti-inflammatory medication may be required. It is best to see a doctor in such cases.

Light Yoga Stretches are one of the best exercises to reverse muscle soreness. It helps get the lactic acid out of the muscles. Hold the stretches for 20-30 seconds. Do not go beyond that.

Slow walking helps release the stiffness, tenderness and soreness caused by heavy weightlifting, long distance or very fast running, high intensity workout or extreme stretches.

Swimming also helps reverse muscle soreness or stiffness due to strength training. It relaxes the body and is gentle on the joints. But make sure to take it easy.

There are some natural remedies to help with muscle soreness:

Hydration: Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins and prevent dehydration, which can make muscle soreness even more painful.

Blueberries: Antioxidants in blueberries may help release muscle fatigue by clearing up the additional free radicals that muscles produce during exercise.

Coffee: Because of its stimulating properties, it can reduce pain resulting from exercise.

Fruits: Grapes, pomegranates and cranberries have non-steroidal anti- inflammatory properties.

Tart Cherry: Tart Cherry is a high antioxidant-rich food and helps promote reduction in inflammation of muscle and muscle soreness.

Ginger: The compound gingerols can fight against inflammation and promote relief from muscle soreness.



Disturbed moods


Frequent injuries

Reduced range of motion

Decreased appetite

Sleeping disorders

Increased resting heart rate


Impaired Coordination

Decreasing range of motion

Stress on ligaments and tendons

Less shock absorption

Increased chances of injuries

Neeraj Mehta is the Director, GFFI Fitness Academy.

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