My Warm-up



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

DOMS is caused by exertion beyond a muscle's normal capacity, but it is made far worse by exercises that involve a lot of repetitions with a heavy eccentric movement. An eccentric movement is any movement that lengthens the muscle against resistance like slowly lowering from a pull-up. At its most extreme, muscle strain can result in rhabdomyolysis (aka rhabdo), in which damaged muscle tissue leaks into the bloodstream, causing kidney failure. Rhabdo is rare, and typically occurs with people who are fit but untrained doing a large number of movements that feel easy but incorporate a heavy eccentric movement. Rhabdo is serious and potentially fatal, but regular DOMS is just part of working out. Most of us feel that if we aren't sore, we haven't been working hard enough. However, applying several layers of microtrauma to the same muscles, like working out sore can lead to overreaching and eventually injury, so we should try to prevent this. Not just for training purposes, but also for our daily existence. I find the ability to stand up and walk around greatly enriches my quality of life. There is no magic pill to prevent or cure DOMS. But there are many small things we can do before, during and after workouts.

Dynamic stretching. I would save the static stretches for afterwards, but preparing your muscles for activity with some quick dynamic stretching will help prevent damage.
Warm-up. Always spend 15-20min getting your body warm. Do you just start your car on a cold day and drive off?

Always keep moving, not letting body cool down. If it's a strength workout, don't sit down and rest between sets. Keep the blood flowing by walking around.
Don't work the same muscles back-to-back. When you're not in charge of programming, you don't have a lot of control over this, and sometimes CrossFit might demand that you hammer the same muscle groups in consecutive workouts. But when you DO have control, try to let the damaged muscles recover while you focus elsewhere.
Recovery workouts. Taking a workout at half-weight can help you recover faster than just waiting it out. Maybe a skill work day would be beneficial. Because you will be bringing fresh blood to the muscles.

Eat lots of quality food, usually a balanced diet like the zone. Your body is in dire need of all the building blocks that food provides us, so feed it. Like it's your job. But make sure it's good quality food: every time you put crap in your body, you're making more work for it to no benefit. So keep the drinking to a minimum (a little red wine is OK), avoid processed foods, sugars, any ingredients with chemical-sounding names, bad fats, and factory-farmed meats. Stick with lots of organic fruits and vegetables, good fats, eggs, quality meats, and nuts. I will explain "The Zone" in more detail in a later post.
Sleep. This is where the majority of repair happens, so don't sell yourself short. Eight hours minimun.
Fish Oil. A natural anti-inflammatory agent, fish oil ups your Omega-3-to-Omega-6 ratio, which is beneficial for keeping your cell receptors open for nutrient transfer.
Cool-down. As a group, we're not very good about this, and we should try to be better. This is where my Crossfit Yoga comes in, stayed tuned for more posts on that. After a very hard workout, don't just collapse - or at least collapse only as long as necessary to breathe again. But get back up and walk around, and do some light movement to keep the blood flowing while your heart rate goes back to normal. Now, while your muscles are warm, do some Yoga stretching.
RICE it. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Massage. A good massage goes a long way to alleviating soreness. If you can afford it, go for it.

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