Wednesday, 16 May 2012

DOMS (not the fun kind)

This was going to be an achievements post, but then I got into rant mode. It happens. Twice in two days, actually. Enjoy.

Woke up tired and sore today. Annoying, but oh well.

I'm researching branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) to help mitigate the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) I get from working out. For some reason, I have both prolonged and intense DOMS. Most people, as it happens, get this for about 12 to 36 hours post workout, that is, starting 12 hours after a workout and going until 36 hours after the workout. So basically just the next day. For me, it seems I get it for around 12 to 60 hours post workout. This, amongst other things, makes for a really awkward work/rest cycle.

To put it more concretely, say I work out on Monday evening. Normal recovery would then allow me to work out on Wednesday morning. Personally, I'm still sore, and I certainly will still be sore this evening. I'll be okay probably tomorrow morning (Thursday). This leads to a cycle of something like this: Mon (eve), Thurs (morn), Sat (eve), Tues (morn), Thurs (eve), Sun (morn), Tues (eve), Fri (morn), Mon (eve) ...

Frankly, that's not going to work for me. There is the other option, of course, of doing only 2 workouts a week - but with a fixed group session on Friday evenings, that means I get only one chance a week to work on my fitness goals. I mean, exercise is exercise, and that's good, but I have goals.

There have been a few studies done on the effect of BCAAs on DOMS. It seems to be effective in some degree in reducing both the duration and the intensity of DOMS. As I understand it, the BCAAs act to reduce muscle damage during a workout, and also promote muscle repair post workout. It does mean swallowing a bunch of pills before and after, but well, I can deal with that.

Intensity of pain wise, my DOMS is also fairly severe. Usually, DOMS is related to the amount of effort you put in - it's basically caused by muscle damage and repair. Generally, your muscles will inform you during the workout how much damage they're undergoing, and from there it's generally easy to work out how sore you're going to feel afterwards. For some reason, I don't really get those signals. I can do a workout where I go nowhere near my maximum effort, feel nothing but nicely warm and loosened up afterwards, and the next day I'll be stiff and sore. If I actually go all out, the next day I'm lucky to be able to shuffle around, and sitting down and standing up become exercises in pain tolerance. And I'll be like that for the next four days. I wrote about this a while back here.

For mitigating my pain and recovery, the current things I'm doing are protein before and after; electrolyte solution during and after; no caffeine the same day or following day; calcium supplementation after; and low rep sets with heavy weights. Each of these things have helped a bit, dropping caffeine the most.

BCAAs are the only thing that aren't yet part of my regime, so here's hoping they help too.