Easily the bane of all exercisers, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is connected with an inability to carry out a high quality workout and low muscular power outputs.
The cause of this soreness is unknown, but can be prevented three ways:
1. Avoid any sudden upswings in quantity or intensity of training.
2. Be sure that good flexibility is maintained in muscles.
3. Force your muscles to periodically complete higher amounts of 'eccentric'
However, this doesn't mean asking your muscles to behave in a deviant manner - eccentric
activity is simultaneously shortening (contracting) and stretching your muscles.
A good example of eccentric work is running downhill. Your quadriceps muscles contract vigorously in an effort to stop you falling on your face, while the force of gravity simultaneously stretches them.
A single bout will often inoculate your muscles against pain for several weeks, even if some muscle soreness is produced initially.
Though no one knows the reason for this protective effect, it's possible that the nervous system is 'taught' how to redistribute any potentially damaging forces pver a larger amount of muscle fibres with this workout. This helps lessen the strain and stress on individual muscle cells.
It is also thought that eccentric workouts may destroy weaker muscle fibres and leave room for more resilient cells.
Some good examples of eccentric workouts inlcude running downhill for 10-15 minutes or bounding uphill using exaggerated knee lifts. (your muscles may get very sore the first time you do this) You could also try some more traditional plyometric exercises.
Try these 5 great eccentric exercises:
1. Lightning hops: Keeping mainly on your toes, hop off the ground as many times as you can in 20-30 seconds. With each hop be sure to stay off your heels and barely get off the ground, while trying to minimise the contact time between the ground and your feet.
2. One-leg hops: In a forward direction, hop from one foot to the other. Landing on one foot and hold for 6-10 seconds, then hop ahead to the other foot.
3. Double-leg hops: Jump forward continuously for about 20 metres.
4. Step hops: Hop up a flight of stairs using only your right foot, then again with only your left.
5. Skipping: Skip for 50 metres, raising the knee as high as possible on each skip.
Note: Runners, skiers, triathletes, football players, and tennis and squash players may find an improvement in power and coordination, as well as a reduction in muscle soreness.