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Old 06-08-2008, 10:48 AM   #1
Justin Lascek
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DOMS facts and discussion

I typed this out for another thread, but figured it would be easier to search (given the context) if it had it's own thread. Some of these issues may have been discussed lightly in other threads, yet hopefully we can collectively bring them together here, as well as be open for discussion.

I think it's important that CrossFitters are familiar with what is happening to them physiologically as they try to improve and meet their goals. I've added stuff here, but some of it has been adapted from:
Wilmore, Jack H., Costill, David L., Kenney, Larry W. (2008). Physiology of Sport and Exercise (4th Ed.).Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
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Here is some information to those that aren't familiar with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS):

-Almost all current theories acknowledge that eccentric (the negative portion of muscle movement) action is the primary initiator of DOMS.
-There is an increase of muscle enzymes in the blood from 2 to 10 times the normal levels following bouts of heavy training. The reasoning is that this indicates muscle tissue breakdown.
-Muscle damage appears to be a precipitating factor for muscle hypertrophy (or growth).
-More studies are establishing a link between muscle soreness and inflammation. White blood cell counts (neutrophils that release cytokines) increase following activities that induce DOMS.

-Armstrong (1984) concluded that DOMS is associated with:
-elevations in plasma enzymes (mentioned above)
-abnormal muscle histology and ultrastructure
-myoglobinemia (presence of myoglobin in the blood)
- This last one is interesting because that is what makes rhabdomyolysis so dangerous: the myoglobin from the muscles being released into the blood stream (via severe muscle damage) and causing renal failure in the kidneys (and potentially death).

And to clarify what myoglobin is:
In blood you have hemoglobin that binds to and carries the majority of the percentage of oxygen through the blood vessels to the rest of the body. Oxygen exchange occurs at the capillaries where oxygen will unbind from the hemoglobin, transport to the tissue through the capillary, then binds with the myoglobin to be transported to muscle.

-So at this point there is a vague understanding of DOMS, yet with DOMS there is a reduction in the force-generating capacity in muscle. Currently this lack of force generation is attributed to three things that DOMS brings about:
1. The physical disruption of the muscle
2. Failure within the excitation-contraction coupling process
3. Loss of contractile protein

-Basically your muscle is less efficient at contracting to it's normal undamaged potential.
-There are also some other factors, like how muscle glycogen re-synthesis is impaired in muscle that has DOMS (muscle glycogen is necessary to be converted to ATP, or the energy required for muscle contraction). This all means that depending on the severity of DOMS, it can affect the amount of force you can produce and the length of time you can produce it, which is associated with muscular strength, endurance, and power.
-DOMS typically peaks within 48 hours of the training bout and is induced more so in new types of exercise or eccentric exercise.
-Depending on the activity itself and the intensity, DOMS can last up to 5 and in some cases 7 days (which isn't typical)
-I've seen some research that even though Non-steroid Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen) can reduce the pain, they can, in fact, blunt muscle growth.
-There are some methods that are more or less widely accepted that can help reduce DOMS, such as appropriate warm-up/cool down, stretching post-exercise, deep tissue massage, and cryotherapy (icing). Then there are the obvious methods, which should be common knowledge to CrossFitters such as being consistent with a healthy diet, rest between bouts of training, and getting enough sleep.

Even though we all are functioning human bodies, the fact is that our bodies are unique just as much as our minds/personalities are. What works for someone else may not necessary work for you. That can be said regarding training, but I'm specifically referring to alleviating DOMS. Your best defense against it is to,
-get accustomed to the exercise
-be consistent with: hydration, having a healthy diet, rest between training bouts, and getting enough sleep at night
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Old 06-08-2008, 04:09 PM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: DOMS facts and discussion

Good post.

From what I've seen the NSAIDs do tend to disrupt the healing process... probably I would guess by disrupting natural inflammatory process that helps clean up the myocellular debris from the training.

I am still suprised there hasn't been a good theory developed yet with all of the data... but then again it could be multiple effects on different things which actually cause DOMS beyond disruption.

The pain associated is particularly interesting because there have been many hypotheses on it.
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