After taking part in some sort of arduous physical exercise, especially something new to your body, it’s quite common to get muscle soreness.
Exercise physiologists refer to the progressively escalating discomfort that develops between 24 and 48 hours after exercise as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and it is completely normal.
This kind of muscle ache is not the same as the discomfort or fatigue you feel during exercise. The delayed muscle soreness of DOMS will likely be at its worst in the first 2 days following a new, rigorous activity and slowly but surely subsides over the next few days.
It’s a common opinion among lots of people that sore muscles after a workout are a sign that you have triggered muscle growth, and that more soreness means more rapid muscle growth.
However, are the two really linked? Just what does muscle soreness have to do with muscle growth? Is it possible to still build muscle without getting sore?
In a recent study, researchers got a group of subjects and divided them into a couple of groups.
The first group, referred to as the pre-trained group, prevented damage to their muscles by slowly but surely “ramping up” their workouts over a 3-week period.
Group 2, on other hand, dived straight into the intensive workouts.
Both groups took part in an eight-week training routine (twenty minutes, 3 times per week)
During the research, researchers assessed indications of muscle damage, muscle soreness, as well as gains in size and strength.
Indications of muscle damage, absent in the pre-trained group, ended up more than five times higher in group 2.
Self-reported muscle soreness, as you may expect given the level of muscle damage, was also increased in the 2nd group.
However, and here is what’s interesting, gains in muscle size and strength were pretty much the same between the two sets of subjects.
Earlier research indicates that the cause of delayed-onset muscle soreness following a training session is the connective tissue that helps to join muscle fibers together, as opposed to the actual muscle fibers themselves.
In addition the actual feeling of muscle soreness seems to be caused by changes in the chemical environment surrounding muscle tissue as opposed to injury to the muscle cell itself.
In other words, the fact that you’re not sore doesn’t mean your muscles aren’t growing. Moreover, sore muscles don’t necessarily translate into more rapid growth.
Muscle soreness is just a sign that you altered something, performed an activity your body was not] accustomed to, or did an exercise that just happens to result in more soreness than others.
Will stretching get rid of muscle soreness?
Stretching out prior to or right after training does not decrease DOMS.
When a team of scientists assessed a number of muscle soreness research, they learned that stretching after training led to a mean reduction in post-exercise soreness of just two percent – an effect that’s very likely to be of absolutely no functional meaning for most of us.
DOMS involves microscopic damage to muscle fibers and the resulting repair process. The moment those muscle fibers are damaged, no level of post-training stretching can then undamage them.