Commonly here at Airport Physiotherapy we have clients who begin weight/exercise training program and ask our Physiotherapists about the intense soreness in their leg/arm muscles following these sessions – they are unsure if this response was normal or if there was an injury involved.
It is extremely common to experience periods of
soreness following the performance of unaccustomed exercise, and being new to
the gym it is highly likely that some of the movements our patient had been
doing in his training are new or done with greater loads than may have used before.
The actual medical term for the pain we are speaking about is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – usually referred to as DOMS. The classic DOMS sufferer describes a dull ache that develops 24-48 hours after the performance of new or strenuous exercise. DOMS can also result in a short term loss of muscle strength, reduced joint range of motion and possibly swelling of the effected muscle groups. The development of DOMS is increased if
your activity involves a large amount of eccentric exercise (exercise where the
muscles are contracting whilst lengthening) – examples being downhill running
and slow lowering of the weight to the chest during Bench Press.
The exact cause of DOMS is a little unclear –
however some possible explanations put forward by medical experts include the
build-up of lactic acid, muscle spasm, torn connective tissue and damaged
To minimise development of DOMS the following
suggestions need to be followed:
The good news is that most cases of DOMS gradually
subside and have no lasting effects – however if the following applies to you
then it is best to seek the advice of a Physiotherapist.
A study published in the “…Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport” conducted at the University of Iceland looked at the effects either stretching or eccentric strengthening on the incidence of hamstring strains among soccer players.
The researchers found no difference in the incidence of injury for the stretching group, but did show a significant reduction in injury rates for the group that performed the eccentric strengthening program. This does not mean that we should throw away our stretching program but it certainly indicates the importance of strength training for hamstring injury reduction.
The exercise that was used in the study is called the “Nordic Hamstring Lower” – a full description of the exercise is below
Exercise of the Month: “Nordic Hamstring Lower”
This is an excellent rehabilitation and injury prevention exercise, especially as it can be done at home with no equipment. Here’s how to do it!
1. Kneel on the ground with your body in the upright position
2. Get a partner to stabilize your feet or wedge them under a heavy object like a lounge chair or barbell.
3. Slowly lean forward as far as possible by extending the knee but keep the back and hips straight. Keep moving forwards until the hands touch the ground. DO NOT fall forwards – it must be a slow and deliberate lowering action.
4. Once the hands touch the ground, push yourself explosively up to the starting position and start again.
Remember this is an eccentric exercise only, only do the lowering part of the exercise.
Tips on Sets and Reps: Attempt to do 3 sets of 10 reps for 2-3 sessions a week – preferably at the end of your training session. Use padding under your knees if you get pressure discomfort.