Seasonal Muscle Soreness

As appears in Total Wellness Newsletter

Remember how sore your arms get from the first bout of raking leaves in the fall or how stiff your back gets after shoveling snow following the first big storm. The scientific term for this form of muscle distress is delayed onset muscle soreness [DOMS]. It starts about eight hours following the unaccustomed exercise and peaks about 24 to 72 hours later.

During this period the sensation of tender, tight, achy muscles is usually felt during activity or while touching the muscles. The old field of thinking associated the degree of distress with the intensity and duration of the activity. Today, research findings indicate that properly preparing the muscles to perform the activity is directly related to the resultant degree of DOMS.

Although the phenomenon of DOMS remains unclear to researchers, it is probably related to tiny tears in the covering of overused muscle fibers. All researchers agree, however, that lengthened muscle contractions produce more injury than shortened muscle contractions. This explains why muscles get more sore after bouts of downhill walking than they do with uphill walking.

DOMS can not be prevented because muscle soreness is a natural response to unaccustomed physical activity. It can, however, be minimized by better preparing your muscles for the raking, shoveling, etc.

Before your unaccustomed activity, warm up your muscles by gently jogging in place, walking around the block or doing some old-fashion jumping jacks. Ask a family member or friend to deeply massage the activity specific muscles. If you cannot recruit any help, use a rolling pin or better yet the Intracell Stick to roll-out your muscles. Follow this with a little gentle stretching and you are ready.

After the exercise activity is over, immediately repeat the above regimen. In fact you may need to perform the massage part several times over the next few days in order to better manage the amount of lactic acid buildup. A nice long, hot bath will help you relax and it sure feels good. Forget the aspirin, because they do not help the distress of DOMS and may even delay healing. Stay active during the following 2 or 3 days and you will be able to take on the next challenge with vigor and zest.

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