NO PAIN NO [email protected]
Seems to be the battle cry of many avid gym goers… but is there any truth behind this muscle-bound saying? Let’s find out!
First, lets talk about why muscle soreness happens. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a term that refers to the soreness you feel in your muscles following exercise. It happens because exercise generates tearing of your muscle fibers and that causes DOMS in the hours to days following.
Using the example of a biceps curl, see that eccentric contraction is the lowering of the weight. Eccentric exercises cause lots of muscle fiber breaking and nearly every movement has an eccentric component.
Take squatting for example: while you’re lowering yourself down, your hamstrings are contracting eccentrically. While you’re rising up, your hamstrings are contracting concentrically. So, workouts with a strong eccentric component create more DOMS.
BUT, have no fear -- DOMS is fine. Repairing broken muscle fibers is actually part of how your muscles increase in size (grow). It causes you soreness because the breaking of muscle fibers releases chemicals that generate small amounts of swelling, inflammation, and pain that inevitably lead to a positive adaptation -- i.e. your muscles get larger.
Now “NO PAIN NO GAIN” isn’t necessarily true -- muscle discomfort after exercise usually means that you worked different muscle groups or worked the same ones harder than normal ... and no, individuals who are more trained to not have less DOMS than their less trained counterparts. In contrast, pain during exercise often indicates a problem like you lack mobility in a joint that should be mobile, extensibility in a muscle that should be extensible, or your form stinks!