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May 29, 2021 2 min read

The “No Pain, No Gain” expression that gets thrown to us many times by our parents or coaches has made us believe that the more muscle pain we get from exercise, the bigger our bodies will grow and that the pain we experience following training – the DOMS – may actually be an indication of muscle “hypertrophy,” the ultimate goal of resistance training. Simply put, if weren’t experiencing pain, then we must not be working hard enough. But is there any truth to this? Read on…

Physical Causes of DOMS

Generally, DOMS happens for one or more reasons: you’ve recently restarted exercising after a long period of rest or inactivity; you’ve incorporated a new exercise into your routine; accumulation of stresses over time; lastly, you’ve performed eccentric training or exercises that involve lengthening muscle contraction, such as running downhill, slowly lowering weights, or crouching down into a squat or push-up. These scenarios result in numerous microtears in the muscles – muscle damage –and DOMS.

Mechanisms of Hypertrophy – Muscle Growth

In the science of fitness and weight lifting, there are three known mechanisms for muscle growth: mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage. For this discussion, we remain our focus on the last as DOMS has been associated with exercise-induced muscle damage or the EIMD.

DOMS and Muscle Growth – The Pain and Gain

The “No Pain, No Gain” is a vague expression, and can sometimes create confusion. Many, especially the starters, don’t understand the concept of “good pain” when it comes to training. We need a certain degree of stress or muscle damage to stimulate growth and that accompanies pain. But when this gets to the point where we exposed our bodies to an excessive amount of stress and experience severe pain, then this turns into a “bad pain.”

Exercise-induced muscle damage is a contributing factor to muscle hypertrophy, although not an exclusive requirement. Muscle growth can still occur via the other two mechanisms. Extremely painful muscle soreness can be a sign of more than just a DOMS. It could be an actual muscle injury and is counterproductive, greatly affecting the force-producing capacity of your muscles, which becomes detrimental to your subsequent workouts.

DOMS Treatment

DOMS is usually fine as it eases off in a couple of days, but if you want to speed up the process, you should strictly understand the importance of rest and recovery and observe the essential components of it, such as adequate and proper rest and sleep, nutrition, and hydration. You can also try some strategic active recovery techniques, which may be helpful if you’re the kind who wouldn’t want to skip a day without training or doing anything for fitness.

If you’re dealing with really “bad pain,” you need to cut back on your training for a while and give yourself enough time to rest and recover. Keeping a good blood supply to your muscles is necessary and can be accomplished with light exercises, movement, and stretching. But if you can hardly do all of these, you can always turn to Recovapro to speed up your recovery!

With all of that being said, it’s vital that you seek out professional help if you feel like what you’re experiencing isn’t normal.


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