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Everyone reading this will surely recall at least one instance when they let a case of DOMS -- delayed onset muscle soreness -- deter them from hitting the gym. How am I supposed to lift through this? you've wondered. The long answer short: suck it up. No, we're not heartless meatheads. Consider the science while you stretch and rub those aching muscle bellies.
Researchers in Western Australia (Edith Cowan University) had subjects do two eccentric (read: muscle-shredding) biceps workouts three days apart. They found that after the second workout, where the subjects were moaning and groaning about their world-ending DOMS, their biceps had no more damage and recovered just as quickly and completely as those who performed just one eccentric workout.
So if you're beat up, don't skip the gym -- you'll still see gains. But here are a few tips to mitigate the pain.
Warm-up: A dedicated warm-up consisting of light cardio activity such as the stationary bike or treadmill can elevate core body temperature and bring much needed blood to sore muscles, loosening them up for the work ahead. Five to 10 minutes should work but a better gauge is sweat -- if you've worked up a light one, you know you're ready for the iron.
Specific warm-up: As usual, perform a few warm-up sets of your first 1-2 exercises to work your muscles through the range of motion that you will be performing during the workout. But don't be content with one or two sets -- keep at it until you feel ready to add weight. As you pump more blood into target muscle groups, the soreness will subside enough for you to ramp up the intensity.
Stretch post-workout: Gone are the days when stretching prior to a workout are the order of the day. Stretching cold, sore muscles before activity has been shown to reduce strength, while providing little protection against injury. A better approach is to stretch post-workout, when muscles are warm and pliable. Dedicate at least 10 minutes post-workout to static stretching the muscle groups you've trained to help speed recovery, increase mobility and mitigate your next bout of DOMS.
Omega-3 supplementation. A good Omega-3 fatty acid supplement is a valuable tool for reducing post-workout soreness by virtue of its capacity for repairing injured cell membranes and shortening recovery time after intense exercise. ProSource's Omega-1250 is a rich and potent source of these Omega-3 fatty acids. Derived from pure deep-sea-cold-water sources that provide 450mg of EPA and 300mg of DHA, Omega-1250 is an ideal supplementary solution for keeping harmful inflammation at bay.