Anyone who has done any form of strenuous activity will have felt that painful ache in the muscles for a few days after exercise. A lot of you may have decided that this pain couldn’t possibly be good for you and, therefore, have avoided any exercise since. Some of you might have decided you quite like that achy feeling, reminding you of what a good workout you had the day before. Basically, this mild discomfort is not bad for you and the good news is it won’t last forever.
Various myths regarding muscle soreness as a result of exercise exist. The most common is the idea that a build up of lactic acid in the muscle causes muscle soreness the next day. It is true that there is a build up of lactic acid in the muscle tissue with strenuous exercise; however, this lactic acid is removed within an hour of finishing exercise. Thus, it is not the cause for pain and stiffness that materializes the following day.
Muscle stiffness or pain after exercise is termed delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). There are two key models to explain this exercise effect. The first is known as the Local Ischemic Model. This model suggests that following either strenuous exercise, or even moderate, non-traumatic exercise, there is swelling in the soft tissue. This causes an increase in tissue pressure and a local reduction in blood and oxygen supply to the muscle (ischemia). This in turn causes muscle spasm and the pain known as DOMS.