Are Sore Muscles A Good Sign? Everything You Should Know!
What Is Muscle Soreness?
Muscle soreness or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a muscle condition that is experienced usually after mildly-intense or highly-intense workouts. It also occurs when athletes attempt a new workout routine with a higher intensity than usual or when they perform a familiar workout routine more vigorously.
Muscle soreness has been recognized to frequently result more often from most eccentric exercises (eccentric exercises are the exercise that target muscles, stressing them while they lengthen). Several examples of eccentric exercises include eccentric squats, push-ups, leg raises, cobra stretch, chest stretch, lunges, overhead presses, deadlifts, and pull-ups.
Muscle soreness is characterized by its ability to last for hours. Muscle soreness, whose most dominant form of occurrence is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) doesn't start immediately after the workout.
Have you ever worked out one day and woke up the next day into a disturbing pain at that part of your body you which you engaged the most? It often begins after 8 to 24 hours and can last between 24 hours to 72 hours depending on the level of severity of the workouts, and in more severe cases, it can last for 7 days.
Muscle soreness is also characterized by pain, stiffness, and weakness. All these stand a great chance in reducing the athlete's and individual's performance during sports activity or normal daily activities.
DOMS is one of the most popular and most frequently per-occurring muscles injury in any sport. It has been observed to occur the most when athletes are about resuming a new sports season (i.e. after a vacation from consistent training and sports activities) or when an individual attempts a new workout routine (which in itself isn't bad nor harmful), but tries to begin intensely which normally isn't advisable for beginners.
Many publications have been made about the delayed onset muscle soreness, pointing to the several scientific possible causes of DOMS. However, according to Karoline Cheung, Patria Hume, and Linda Maxwell:
“Six theories have been proposed to explain the causes/mechanism of DOMS. They are Muscle Spasm, Lactic Acid Theory, Muscle fiber damage, Connective tissue damage, inflammation, and the enzyme efflux theories."
– Cheung et. al., 2003
Two prominent causes/explanations for DOMS are the Lactic acid theory and Muscle fiber damage theory. This former explains that during intense workout activities, there is a shortage of oxygen intake/oxygen in the blood which unavoidably results in the reduction of glucose oxidized to give energy which is of course required to continue the exercised activity.
Although lactic acid production helps to complement the shortage of oxygen/energy available for use, during workouts, it often accumulates in the body as the workout activity continues. This accumulation contributes towards the muscle stress and fatigue felt during and after working out, accompanied by the pain and weakness of that muscle.
The muscle damage theory is characterized simply by the occurrence of micro-injuries/micro-tears in the muscle fiber mass which later leads to the intense pain experienced after some hours. Surprisingly, the pain experienced has been discovered to be at its peak when this micro-injury, heals up.
However, it has been debated worldwide whether muscle soreness is a credible indication of an effective workout session or not. Well, muscle soreness to a good extent MAY confirm the effectiveness of a workout. However, the fact that another individual didn't experience muscle after a particular workout session doesn't necessarily mean he/she didn't work out effectively.
As stated earlier in this article, resultant muscle soreness has often been recognized and linked to the beginning of consistent workouts after a long period of rest and break from working out.
Hence, the fact that someone experiences muscle soreness could be because of this long break from these exercises. However, someone else who has been quite consistent in that same type of workout exercise could most probably not feel sore in their muscles. Why is this???
It has been discovered that when muscles become sore especially as a result of micro-injuries and micro-tears in the muscle fiber, the muscles heal up by themselves with time even without any massage therapy or medical attention.
Nevertheless, it depends on the severity level of muscle soreness. Total rehabilitation of a sore muscle when severe can last up to a week or even more. One week compulsory break during a sports season can mark the difference between winning that game or losing it. Percussive therapy drastically reduces the rehabilitation period as well as counteracting the causes/mechanism of delayed onset muscle soreness.
Benefits Of Percussive Therapy to Sore Muscles
- Muscle spasm: Muscle spasm is an involuntary contraction of the muscles, usually initiated by the neurological system, and occurs as a result of engaging in vigorous and tasking exercises, not having enough water, absence of sufficient body minerals. Muscle spasm reduces the range of motion of the athlete or individual.
Percussive therapy can help prevent this by gently pounding the muscles, thereby offering a deep muscle massage that reduces the tension in the muscles and muscle stiffness, which automatically reduces the spasm action, and as a result, achieves a good sense of relaxation and body relief.
- Lactic Acid Accumulation: Lactic acid is formed as a result of the insufficient level of oxygen in the blood required to oxidize glucose into energy. Hence, lactic acid augments this insufficiency by producing energy (although, far less compared to the energy gotten from the aerobic pathway) without the need for oxygen (anaerobic pathway). Persevering in such a situation results in more production of lactic acid as well as metabolites which accumulates as there isn't enough oxygen to break them down.
A percussive massage gun acts upon the muscles, sending pulses that travel even to the muscle capillaries to shake and flush out every metabolite and debris, while the normal intake of oxygen automatically breaks down the accumulated lactic acid.
- Muscle Inflammation: Muscle inflammation occurs as a result of intense vigorous exercises, and is usually characterized by pain(though varies among individuals), swelling and weakness. Muscle inflammation diseases include polymyositis, rhabdomyolysis, and dermatomyositis.
Applying a massage gun around the swelling or weak part of the body helps to speed up the recovery rate of the muscle, thus, getting rid of the inflammation by increasing blood circulation in that area.
- Range Of Motion: When experiencing DOMS, the general efficiency and flexibility of the athlete or individual reduce relatively. The muscles become stiff, hence clumping together, coupled with the shortage of oxygen and lymph flow restrictions. All these make every movement of that part of the body respond with pain (which could be excruciating).
For athletes, being swift and flexible are needs that cannot be over-emphasized. That is why having a massage gun cannot be overemphasized either. The massage gun relaxes and liberates the muscle fibers, straightening the muscle strands, consequently getting rid of the rigidity and stiffness that impedes the athlete's performance.
In the long run, the benefits of a massage gun, are holistic.