Delayed onset muscle soreness, sometimes referred to as DOMS, can strike even the most experienced cyclist. If you’ve ever felt sore muscles a day or two after a strenuous ride, you know the pain of DOMS. Although many people believe DOMS is caused by lactic acid buildup in the tissues, the exact cause of delayed onset muscle soreness is unknown. Most likely it is linked to microscopic muscle tears and damaged tissue of the muscle fibers.
It can also be caused by inflammation, both of the muscles and the surrounding tissues. Some degree of muscle soreness is not unusual, but repeated episodes of DOMS can signify that you are training too hard. Fortunately, there are some ways to treat and avoid this exercise induced muscle pain.
DOMS is usually experienced after a rapid increase in intensity or after you train at levels higher than normal. Scientists continue to study it because they still are not sure of the exact cause. Some people seem especially prone to muscle soreness after exercise, while others seem practically immune. Although some theorize it is caused by an inflammatory response, taking an anti-inflammatory medication in advance does nothing to prevent it.
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DOMS is an unfortunate side effect of training your muscles, and the healing process takes time. Although it usually occurs after long rides, it can also strike after short rides at a high intensity. Many people also notice it occurs when they return to cycling after a break. Although it causes no long term muscle damage, no one enjoys feeling sore.
Treatment for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness from Cycling
Although DOMS will go away on its own in several days, there are some things you can do to help ease the pain.
- Take a pain reliever like Advil or Ibuprofen. These medications work by reducing inflammation and will ease the pain. These anti-inflammatory drugs will help your muscles feel better in the short term.
- Try soaking in a hot bath or allowing the jets of a hot shower to strike the affected area. Even better, try a soak in the hot tub. A heat wrap or heating pad can also be helpful to ease the pain.
- Massage has mixed results in treating DOMS: some swear it helps to reduce the pain, others say it’s hokum. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with trying to gently massage the area and hope for the best.
- Get some rest. Sleep deprivation increases muscle pain so it’s best to make sure you get your full eight hours a night in to help heal your muscle inflammation.
- Stretch and exercise your muscles gently. Try some light walks, avoiding hills or anything strenuous. Allows the muscles to rest for a day or two.
- Although rare, be on the lookout for signs of rhabdomyolysis. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. If your DOMS seems way out of proportion with the level of exercise, if the pain increases rather than decreases, if you experience a fever or urine that is dark in color (the color of tea), seek immediate medical attention.
- If you have any concerns about your symptoms, see a physician. Do not take chances with your health.
You can help prevent your level of delayed onset muscle soreness in cycling by gradually easing into increases in intensity of your cycling. Take the time to prepare adequately for races so that you don’t overexert your body, and be careful to maintain proper hydration as it can affect your level of soreness later. Be sure to get adequate rest, especially after any intense cycling sessions.
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As bicycle crash lawyers, we have seen our fair share of injured cyclists. DOMS pain goes away in about 72 hours, but the pain and disability from a bicycle crash can linger for weeks, months, even a lifetime. Although doctors can help heal your injuries, you will be left with staggering medical bills, time away from work, and of course, pain and suffering.
Let us fight for you to get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries. We don’t believe you should be left to fight for yourself during this difficult time. Let an attorney from Kass & Moses stand beside you.
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