What are Muscle Burns, Lactic Acid And DOMS and does pain mean a good workout?

No pain, no gain. You’ve heard this many times and even said it a few times too! If a workout is not hurting then do you feel that you are not working hard enough? If you are not sore the next day do you feel disappointed? What are the different types of “Pain” and what do they mean?

Muscle soreness can also be called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). How is that different from Lactic acid build up and muscle burn? What causes these effects? Let’s see!

There are 2 primary types of muscle pain. One is from lactic acid and is the burning that you feel while you are working out. The second, is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS for short) which is the stiffness, aches and soreness you may feel for up to 1-5 days after a work out.

When your body is not getting enough oxygen to break down the glucose required for energy, Lactic acid is created. Lactic acid is produced when extreme anaerobic activity (such as weight lifting) occur as a defensive measure, the body is designed to save itself! Lactic acid forces the body to slow down and catch its “metabolic” breath. The muscle burn is a sign that you are working your muscles to your maximum. Once lactic acid is produced in high enough quantities, your body can only continue that muscle use for about another 1 -3 minutes. Fortunately, lactic acid does only remains in your muscles from a few hours to twenty-four hours. This enables us to move after a workout!

DOMS is the aches, “pain”, stiffness and uncomfortable soreness you may feel the day after some workouts. This pain and stiffness is usually at its worst in the first 1-2 days and then diminishes. The length of muscle recovery time depends on factors such as the muscle damage and needed repair, the age of the exerciser and the nutrition intake of he exerciser.

What causes DOMS? When you workout, you tax your muscles. This usually causes small tears in the muscles and after the “recovery” period, your muscles grow to become stronger. In essence, there is inflammation and damage of the muscles created by the workout, which is why ice after a workout on a hard worked muscle group will help speed recovery and make you less sore. DOMS can be caused by a new exercise, different angle for an exercise, a new workout routine, and of course, heavier weights. Don’t worry, your muscles will recover and adjust and the DOMS won’t be serve or at all.

Tips to remember:
1. Lactic acid build up creates the muscle burn. But that does not mean that if you have no burn you are not getting a good workout! Higher reps will lead to more lactic acid, but heavier weights and lower reps will add more muscle and not have as much lactic acid build up.

2. DOMS soreness is not always the indication of a good workout. It could be a new exercise or angle that targets and stretches a muscle in a new way that causes the soreness. Extreme DOMS should tell you that you either over did it, are not recovering from your workout (check your nutrition numbers!) or possibly injured a muscle.

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