D.O.M.S.

Don’t you just love the feeling of not being able to walk after a tough run or workout….

It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie to exercise, or a seasoned vet, you have all at one point or another experienced the feeling of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).  This is the feeling of muscle soreness and fatigue that you feel anywhere from 24-72 hours following any particularly difficult workout.  While most people have felt it before, they don’t really know much about it.  What causes it?  Is it treatable?  Does it affect performance?  Because of that, I’m going to try to explain some things about muscle soreness in a very simple manner.

Simply put, DOMS is created by repeated muscular contraction.  DUH.  More specifically, the eccentric phase (lengthening) is the prime suspect in the case of DOMS.  Lengthening of the muscle, under tension of course, cause a disruption in both connective and contractile tissues.  This leads to microtrauma within the muscle, and usually results in a inflammatory response.  So, that tight, sore feeling you get in your hamstrings the day(s) after a leg workout is literally because your muscles have been damaged and are trying to repair themselves.

So, should you exercise while sore?  Does it affect your performance?  In short, no.  DOMS does not affect performance, assuming you are not doing the exact same exercises while sore.  It is generally agree upon that MOVING the muscles is recommended, while EXERCISES the sore muscles is generally discouraged.  So, if your legs are sore from a tough workout yesterday, you’re probably going to second guess climbing those steps to get to your apartment.  But, the fact of the matter is, you’re not going to be inhibited any.  You may not really feel like climbing, but your ability won’t be hindered any.  Don’t let muscle soreness prevent you from getting up and moving.  In fact, movement is usually the best way to rid yourself of DOMS.

Is there anything that prevents muscle soreness??  There are things that tend to help with DOMS, but there is nothing that completely prevents or removes DOMS – other than time and a whole lot of patience.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to be somewhat effective in reducing soreness, although long-term use is probably not very beneficial.  Then there is exercise (funny how that keeps popping up).  The best medicine for a sore muscle, as previously mentioned, is to get up and move it around.  Active skeletal muscle require increased blood flow.  With blood to the muscle comes nutrients, many of which are vital in muscle recovery and repair.

There is certainly a lot of information out there on muscle soreness, some of which I don’t even completely understand.  But, I feel like it is something that, since it happens so regularly, people should at least know the basics.  If you are interested in reading some more on DOMS, check out this article, which does a great job explain what it is and how to deal with it.

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Humpday Motivation

I don’t know about you, but I’m not trying to pay for any more tires than I have to.

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Makes perfect sense if you think about it.  We all have bad days.  There’s no getting around that.  It happens to even the best of us, and it always will.  But you can’t let that keep you from seeing the big picture.  Why give up on something so important because of one small setback??  I’ve always been told, and believed, that someone’s true character is revealed when dealing with adversity.  So, what’s your character?  Are you going to push through or give up?  Easy choice if you ask me….

The Beautiful Foam Roll

If you’ve stepped foot into a gym before, you’ve seen these.  You may not have used one yet (shame on you), but you’ve at least seen one.

If you’ve ever used one of these then you know that, like John Mellencamp used to say, they “make it hurt so good.”  On the one hand, if you’re putting enough weight on them, they hurt like a son of a bitch (especially on a sore, or God forbid, a bruised muscle).  But, after you’re done, you feel like a brand new man (or woman – I’m not sexist, I don’t think).  But, what exactly do they do??  Yeah, you feel better, but what’s really going on in your muscles?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

Think of a foam roller almost as an iron for your muscles.  Just as the iron takes care of your clothes after your forgot to fold them, the foam roller takes care of your muscles after you break them down working out.  When we exercise, we develop both swelling and microtears within our skeletal muscle.  This swelling can sometime impinge on nerves and vessels going to the muscles.  Over time, this can develop into scar tissue if left untreated.  Fortunately, we’ve got our handy dandy foam rollers.  Essentially what they do is smooth out all of the scar tissue (and possible adhesions) left from microtears and swelling.  When scar tissue and swelling have been removed (or at least lowered) our blood vessels can open back up and deliver more blood back to the muscles.

The end result of foam rolling, through various mechanisms, is increased blood flow to the muscles.  This is very important because blood carries many substances that are important for muscle recovery after workouts.  If we can increase this blood flow, then we can help our muscles recover a bit quicker from workouts.

Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks/months as I will post some videos showing you how to use your foam roller on different muscles groups.

Exercise of the Week

Suspension  Split Squat

This is a great exercise not only because it allows us to strengthen each leg independently, but it forces you to focus on balance and stability at the same time.  Often times people will speed through a movement, which takes away from some of the overall value.  This exercise, however, forces you to slow down.  Doing so will really allow you to focus on proper technique as opposed to just going through the movement.

On the way down I want you to focus just as much on pushing your leg back as anything else.  Your weight will be on the foot that’s on the ground, but focusing on pushing your other knee back and down will keep your front knee from coming too far forward.  This exercise can easily be done wrong, so focus on pushing the back knee straight down, and that will help eliminate some mistakes.

I put this view in here just to show that there will be a little bit of swaying from side to side with this exercise.  Any time that one leg is up off the ground, this can be expected.  Losing your balance and catching yourself isn’t always a bad thing, as it forces you to activate muscles that wouldn’t normally be used.  If you lose balance, simply slow down, catch yourself, and get back to it.

Using the suspension trainer for this exercise is relatively advanced.  Some people may not have the balance or core strength needed for such an unstable surface.  If that is you, then you can always put your foot on a bench behind you and go through the same motion.  The bench will provide a much more stable surface.  If that is still too difficult, start with both feet on the ground in a split squat (lunge) position and move up and down while standing still.

 

My New Adventure

At this point in my life, I am fortunate enough to be in a position where all of my health and fitness “adventures” are out of “want to” as opposed to “need to.”  When I tell people I’m starting a new challenge or training for another race, some people look at me like I’m a little weird.  But, to live the lifestyle I do, sometimes you have to enjoy things that most people simply wouldn’t.  This time is probably no different.  I am starting a new challenge, only this time it isn’t physical.  It is a 30-day nutrition challenge called the “Whole 30 Program.”

So what is the Whole 30 Program??  Here is the layout, in very simplified form.  As you could guess by the name, it lasts for 30 days.  The purpose is to cut out all processed/refined foods and eat ONLY natural, whole foods.  The goal of the program is to allow your body time to heal from the damage that fake foods do to it.  In a way, you’re pushing the reset button with your metabolism and learning to eat all over again.  Now, again, I don’t “need” a life-changing challenge such as this.  I eat right, I exercise every day, and I take care of myself pretty well for a 26 year-old guy.  But, like I said, I want to constantly challenge myself to do things that I sometimes don’t know if I can.  And this, being the first nutritional challenge I’ve undertaken, is definitely one of those things.  It will take much more discipline than any physical challenge or training regimen that I have ever gone through.

So, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff.  What are the rules??  Well, to make it easier, I’ll tell you what I’m not allowed to do.  Here are the no-no’s.

I’m not allowed any of the following for 30 days straight:

  • Added sugar of any kind
  • Alcohol or tobacco
  • Grains – wheat, rye, rice, quinoa, oats, corn
  • Legumes – black/red/pinto/white/kidney beans, peanuts, peanut butter, soy
  • Dairy – cheese, milk, yogurt, sour cream
  • White potatoes
  • MSG or Sulfites – prominent in processed foods
  • Taking body measurements of any kind (not that I normally do)

I’m going to struggle with 3 things here, I can already tell you.  First of all, and probably most difficult, will be cutting out peanut butter.  I love peanut butter, and eat it just about every day.  So I know right off the bat, that it’s going to be difficult.  I actually threw away a half full jar of it last night.  Second, no alcohol.  Not that I’m an alcoholic by any stretch, but I do enjoy a good beer every once in a while.  I will have to save the Shock Tops and White Rascals until Thanksgiving.  Finally, no cheat meals of any kind.  I usually designate Sundays for my cheat day when it comes to my food.  This will be a tough one for me, as that is normally by day to hit the pause button and not worry about anything.  We will see how that goes.

I will keep you guys updated along the way to let you know how much I hate my life at the moment. HA!

Wish me luck, lord knows I’m going to need it.

For more information on the Whole 30 Program, visit http://www.whole9life.com

 

Monday Morning Motivation

So true…

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This is one something that I make a point to stay true to every single day.  Life is short, so you might as well try to embrace the positive things in life and enjoy the time you have.  There is a lot of negative going on in the world today, so why not try to make it a little better place by staying positive??  Try it out, and see if your day doesn’t get a little better!!

Shaking My Head

I think this is funny because I’m sure I do this all the time.  Being a trainer, I am always focusing on form, for myself and clients.  When I’m at the gym, though, it’s a different story.  I don’t really feel like it’s my place to interrupt somebody, so I just make a funny face and keep Shaking My Head.