Climbing & Training Helpful Hints and Suggestions: DOMS Prevention and Attenuation Tactics (IYC Series), Part 2

Taking an extra day or two off can make a world of difference.

Taking an extra day or two off can make a world of difference.

Today, I’ll discuss the first of what I personally consider to be the contributing factors that have helped me experience much less DOMS recently (in the past year) than I have in the past (two decades of climbing). Realize again that none of these interventions rest on strong scientific proof (from what I’ve seen, anyhow) save for the first one on my list – but that I offer up my DOMS attenuation recipe list in the hopes that some of these interventions, alone or together, might help others seeking to lessen the severity of their post-exercise pain just like I have. I’ve ordered them as logically as I can through the next few entries, grouping interventions together that seem to play into one another — aside from this first one, which gets its very own entry.

DOMS Attenuation Tactic #1: Rest. I intend to write way more about rest in another IYC entry here at some point soon. And I’ve written about it before. I believe rest to be one of the most underused and undervalued training methods for climbers (and probably for lots of athletes). Not resting enough to allow your body to repair and recover between workouts undermines your ability to work out at a high enough intensity to make the most gains possible, or to be ready to undergo another high-intensity workout/effort – a vicious cycle that can land you squarely on a plateau because you are never recovered enough to push hard enough to make real gains or to reach your personal peak potential. Even if you can climb harder than everyone else for multiple days in a row, you are still most definitely not reaching your personal potential if you don’t allow your body the rest days it needs to recover, thereby preventing yourself from ever climbing/training at a truly high intensity for your body.

Also, ample rest is the number-one way to get rid of DOMS. If you rest enough, the soreness will dissipate (so long as it is DOMS and not an injury – most injuries take much longer to recover from, as does overtraining). If you don’t rest enough, but instead insist upon climbing hard and/or training hard on sore, under-recovered muscles (and ligaments and tendons), you are interfering with your body’s repair process and therefore sabotaging the gains you are hoping to make. Who wants that? Tell your anxious brain that another day of rest is money in the bank, and that training when you’re not sore and worked is far more profitable in the big picture than pushing through the pain you built up from yesterday’s workout today.

Again, always remember that I write this from the perspective of a recovered volume-trainer-aholic who used to beat the living sh#$ out of my body as often as possible for as many hours as possible a day. I get that it’s hard to stop doing that, but if you can retrain your brain to understand that rest is good, and that paying attention to and carefully manipulating your training intensity along with your rest days is more important than a daily grinding volume workout, the results might surprise you!

Up Next Week: Climbing & Training Helpful Hints and Suggestions: DOMS Prevention and Attenuation Tactics (IYC Series), Part 3

This multipart series of articles starts here, in case you have to catch up – you’ll also find a full table of contents, complete with links, in that entry. This information and advice is based on my 20+ years of climbing along with observations I’ve made as a climbing coach/certified personal trainer. You might not agree with me or my take on things. That’s fine – feel free to take it or leave it as you wish! Also, remember that the information I provide here is purely offered as advice and that no exercises or training program should be undertaken without receiving medical clearance from a healthcare professional.

One other caveat: As will be true for all of the entries and articles in this series, if you’ve already mastered or maxed out the topic at hand to the best of your ability level, you’ll reap far fewer benefits or none at all from my suggestions – good for you that you figured it out, but sorry I couldn’t help you out more. Happy climbing and training!

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