Post-Beast Muscle Soreness
With the Beast quickly approaching, it’s time to talk about reducing the pain and discomfort that ensues following the completion of the course. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the sensation of pain and/or discomfort experienced 24–48 hours after unaccustomed exercise, particularly exercise that requires primarily eccentric muscle contraction. Eccentric exercises were discussed in my first blog on Achilles Tendonopathy. Eccentric muscle contractions are those in which the muscle is lengthening while it is contracting, typically to slow a joint down. An example of eccentric muscle contractions are the quadriceps muscle while running downhill, or the contraction of the biceps muscles when lowering a heavy weight with your arms.
While the exact physiologic cause of DOMS is not fully understood, we know that stretching is an effective way for many people to reduce the amount of DOMS that is experienced post-race. A study by Reisman et al. 2005, showed that stretching following a heavy eccentric workout was able to reduce the amount of pain associated with DOMS. A similar study by Jayaraman, et al., 2004, found that static stretching following intense exercise was able to slightly reduce the amount of pain caused by DOMS. More flexible athletes, however, tend to have no effect from performing pre and post-workout stretching.
In general, static stretching is advocated over the use of ballistic stretching. With static stretching, the stretch is held for 10-15 seconds then repeated for several repetitions. In ballistic stretching, the stretch is not held, but the athlete moves quickly in and out of the stretch. Ballistic stretching tends to put more strain on tendons and their attachments, leading to a higher risk of injury from the stretch alone.
It would be impossible to list the millions of stretches that are out there for various body parts, but it is important to stretch the large muscle groups, for sure, prior to the race, and again after the race. Some suggestions are pictured here:
Jason Dudzic, PT, MSPT, OCS, Cert. MDT
Board Certified Orthopaedic Physical Therapist
Saint Vincent Rehab Solutions