CrossFit and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

CrossFit and Delayed Onset Muscle Sorness (DOMS)

CrossFit DOMS
DOMS and CrossFit

“How’s everyone feeling?” This is a typical question many classes at CrossFit Eminence start with, which is usually followed by a large “uggggghhhh” in unison by the class. Why the Ugh? Well, it is probably due to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, also known as DOMS.

There are many theories as to what causes DOMS.  The latest theory is based around connective tissue microtrauma, which occurs mainly in the eccentric (muscle lengthening) phase of movements, but it is typically experienced by individuals when they return to exercise after an extended time off, or after completing a movement that they were initially introduced to. The pain shows up around 24 hours after the completion of the exercise and typically lasts between 24-48 hours later. DOMS can usually be described as muscle tenderness, stiffness, or even pain when touching the muscle. Typically, with a regular workout routine, DOMS would be experienced after the first few weeks of the workout plan, then the body will adapt to the stimulus, which will then provide less DOMS as the plan is continued. With CrossFit, the model is to provide constantly varied movements week over week, for extended periods of time, which means constant introductions to new movement patterns, which is a nice recipe for DOMS, hence the uggghhh. 

When attending your first classes at Eminence, if you are new or returning to exercise, you may experience DOMS, and we would like you to know that it is common. If you are experiencing muscle soreness, tenderness, or stiffness, we recommend the following:

  1. Keep Moving.
    1. Take a casual walk
    2. Come back to CrossFit Eminence for an Active Recovery workout
      1. If you do workout, make sure to go easy on the sore muscles
    3. Work on some Self Myofascial Release (Foam Rolling)
  2. Eat and Hydrate properly

Even as a seasoned CrossFit Eminence member, it is possible to receive DOMS throughout the week, but it usually won’t be as intense. One thing to consider with DOMS as suggested by Webster (2019), is to reframe your attitude toward it, and utilize it as some personal feedback for improvement. 

  1. Use it to justify a rest day
    1. Always listen to your body, if you are very sore, it might be a good idea to not workout and take a full rest day. 
  2. Take it as a sign that your body is adapting to new stimuli
  3. Use it as downstream feedback on technique and form
    1. Remember that DOMS are typically caused by a new stimulus in the eccentric phase (lowering portion) of the lift. If you experience DOMS in a different area than usual for a common lift, your technique might have been different than normal (which could be either good or bad).

 Also, remember that if you do not experience DOMS, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t working out hard or making progress. Ideally not having DOMS will allow you to workout more and push the intensity more often, eliciting more progress. 

Remember, DOMS is common, especially for those starting or returning to a fitness routine. Don’t let it derail your progress toward your fitness goals. Reframe your thinking toward it and continue to come in by reserving a class!

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