If you have ever trained hard enough to achieve anything useful, the chances are that you have experienced Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (or DOMS, if you like acronyms…and let’s be honest, they make you sound like you have extensive technical knowledge and are short on time, so everyone loves them).
Despite the fact that athletes have been getting sore for as long as there have been athletes, the exact mechanisms underlying the causes of DOMS are poorly understood. One thing we can say for sure at this point though is that it has almost nothing to do with lactic acid, despite what the conventional wisdom on the subject has to say. Rather than being some toxic by-product of exercise, lactate is now understood to be an important fuel source during intense activity, and the smart money is currently on other factors (like hydrogen ions) for explaining why your legs ache so.
If for some reason you are particularly fond of being very sore for a long time after Crossfitting, there’s a couple of simple methods you can employ to make it worse. In no particular order:
1 – Don’t Eat Enough Protein
People who are interested in rapidly recovering from exercise eat protein at every meal. Especially breakfast.
In case anybody is reaching for a packet of Frosties at this point to check how much protein they contain, let me save you a little time: “protein” means meat or eggs. If it didn’t run, swim or fly at some point (or if it wasn’t going to after it hatched) it’s not protein.
We all know that protein is a key nutrient for growth and repair of muscle tissue, but it is chronically under-consumed by people who aren’t actively watching their intake. Avoid this stuff like the plague if you want to be sore for a whole week after working out.
2- Wait until you’re not sore before working out again
Assuming a particular stressor does not kill you, your body will generally recover from and adapt to it. The next time you’re exposed to the same stressor, it won’t be such a big deal.
This is very obvious stuff to anyone who has ever lifted anything or attempted to move themselves at speed, but something that isn’t often appreciated is that recovery capacity can be trained too.
If you always wait until you are fully and completely recovered before working out again, you are not doing anything to force your body to get any better at recovering from exercise. You need to occasionally train while sore if you ever hope to stop getting sore every time you train.
The rule of thumb is that if you’re sore, but you regain your full range of motion after warming up, you’re ok to train again. If you’re so sore that you still can’t bring your joints through their normal range of motion after a warmup, you’re not going to achieve anything useful by training again that day. Go for a walk instead, and find some pretty flowers to smell.
3 – Don’t Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is important for more reasons than I’ve got the time to go into (or anyone else has the patience to read). Everything from your hormonal profile, to your body composition and even just your mood is intimately connected to the quality and quantity of sleeping you’re doing.
More immediately, your body primarily repairs and rebuilds itself while you’re asleep, so if you’re into recovering quickly, more sleep is a complete no-brainer.
Quality-wise, you need somewhere very dark and very quite to sleep in. If necessary, this means investing in some earplugs and taping tinfoil over anywhere where there is light shining in (this may sound extreme, but it has the added bonus of blocking out the government’s mind-control rays…but you didn’t hear that from me).
As far as quantity goes, 8 hours is a nice minimum target (yes, that says minimum). In fact, in the words of the esteemed Mr Wolf, you basically you want as much sleep as you can get without getting divorced or fired.
4 – Ignore All Recovery Techniques
Ice baths, foam rolling and light stretching (that says LIGHT!) will all help to reduce the severity and duration of a particularly good bout of soreness. If you want to make sure you’re as stiff and sore as possible, remain perfectly still at all times and allow yourself to seize up. Getting up and moving around will only stimulate bloodflow to the muscles and speed up the recovery process, meaning you’ll have less time to brag to people about your impressive level of self-inflicted pain and suffering.Courtesy of CrossFit Ireland