Muscle Soreness: Myths vs. Facts (Recipe: Roasted Herbed New Potatoes)

There are a lot of myths out there about muscle soreness. This article I read tried to clear some of those up.

Myth #1: DOMS is caused by the build-up of lactic acid in your muscles.

The verdict: Not true. During exercise, your body needs energy, and it breaks down molecules to get that. As a result of this metabolic process, your cells naturally become more acidic, which makes your muscles feel like they’re burning. But this isn’t caused by lactate. Lactate is actually a by-product of the metabolic process and serves as a buffer that slows down the rate at which the cells become acidic. “People produce lactate all the time, even at rest. It clears your system 30 minutes to 1 hour after working out,” says an expert in the field. [Side Note: Bob informed me of this awhile back.  This is why Bob says not to give a self-massage until 45 minutes to an hour after working out. You need to let the lactic acid do it’s thing!]

A study in Clinics in Sports Medicine found that DOMS is the result of microtrauma in the muscles and surrounding connective tissues, which causes inflammation. The reason that eccentric muscle contraction (think lowering a dumbbell back down in a bicep curl) is more likely to be the culprit is because it places a higher load on your muscles compared to concentric contraction.

Myth #2: It’s not a good workout unless you’re sore the next day.

We often wear our DOMS as a badge of honor and believe that if we’re not sore, we’re not doing enough during out workouts. But that’s just not true.

“It doesn’t mean that you’re not getting as good of a workout because you’re not crippled the next day,” says Monica Vazquez, NASM certified personal trainer. “You should feel [soreness] 24 hours to three days after the activity. If, after three days, you try to do the same exercise and you cannot because you go immediately to muscle failure, you’ve done too much,” she says.

Studies have also shown that soreness itself (using a scale from 0 to 10 to assess the level of soreness) is poorly correlated as an indicator of muscle adaptation and growth. There are many factors that influence how DOMS presents itself in individuals. So while comparing notes (and commiserating) is all part of the process, soreness and DOMS isn’t the best gauge of how effective your workout was or who’s in better shape.

Myth #3: The more fit you are, the less susceptible you are to DOMS.

It’s true that you will start to feel less sore as your body adapts to your workouts and learns to distribute the workload across your muscle fibers more effectively. That’s why you should regularly change up your exercise routine.

However, there is also a genetic component to how sensitive we are to pain and soreness. People can be no-responders, low-responders or high-responders to soreness. If you’re a high-responder, you will experience DOMS more acutely than someone who is a no- or low-responder when given the same training load. While you can’t change your genes, it is important to know where you fall on the spectrum to understand how your body may respond to changes in your workouts.

Myth #4: Muscle damage is a bad thing.

Yes, DOMS appears to be caused by trauma to your muscle fibers, but it’s not a definitive measure of muscle damage. In fact, a certain degree of soreness seems to be necessary. “When muscles repair themselves, they get larger and stronger than before so that [muscle soreness] doesn’t happen again,” says Vazquez. While these mechanisms are not completely understood, some muscle trauma is needed to stimulate protein production and muscle growth.

Myth #5: Pre- and post-workout stretching is a good way to prevent and treat DOMS.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. A review of studies for the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on the effects of stretching before or after exercise on the development of delayed-onset muscle soreness found that pre- and post-workout stretching did not reduce the effects of DOMS in healthy adults. In fact, research has found that static stretching prior to working out does not safeguard you against injury and may actually decrease your power and strength.

While you may not be able to avoid soreness altogether, ACSM suggests advancing slowly with a new workout, giving your muscles time to adapt and recover. Vazquez recommends always including a proper warm-up (including dynamic stretching), and cooldown period as part of your routine.

Fun Fact: More than 1,500 restaurants are using touchscreen tablets that let you order without a waitress. A nutritionist found that you are more likely to overindulge because the tablet removes the judgment you may feel when you have to say what you want.

1 year ago: Beat the Heat and Hurricane Arthur (Recipe: Blueberry Romaine Salad)

2 years ago: Abs and Glutes (Recipe: Basil-Walnut Salad Dressing)

Quote of the Day:

“No matter how big and inactive you are, no matter how long-standing your hatred of running or exercise of any kind, if you give it a try and stick to it, the day will come when it no longer sucks, no longer makes you want to die–when life itself no longer sucks, and you no longer feel like you’re crazy.” -Marc Parent

Time for a recipe! These are a fav! I love sweet potatoes, so having them roasted is even better! You should definitely give this a try for a side dish! Easy and delicious!

Roasted Herbed Potatoes

Roasted Herbed New Potatoes

Ingredients

2 pounds potatoes, halved or quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Directions

– Heat oven to 400*.

– Toss all ingredients together.

– Roast for 30 minutes or until tender.

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