My DOMS reduction list continues below with the final items, items 8 to 10, now added to the interventions discussed already in previous entries as potentially contributing to my lessened post-exercise soreness: resting enough, sleeping enough, reducing stress, engaging in light physical activity, getting stronger, hot tub (or bath), and massage/self-massage. To these, I add the following:
8. Eat right. How’s your diet before, during and after your workouts? Do you make a point of eating and drinking regularly throughout every climbing day? Are you obsessing over every pound you lose or gain? Are you starving yourself or severely restricting your food intake while simultaneously working out hard to make climbing/training gains? Engaging in sound, sustainable nutrition practices can go a long way to help promote faster recovery from difficult workouts or climbing days – and food deprivation is not part of that equation. Check out the 10-part Improve Your Climbing Series on nutrition for details on shaping up your diet for climbing and training .
9. Ingest natural anti-inflammatories regularly. Tying into eating right, including foods in my diet that have known anti-inflammatory properties is kind of a no-brainer. If I like them anyway, and they might help alleviate DOMS, why not? Numerous natural anti-inflammatories/pain reducers are readily available that for the majority of us carry little or no risk by adding them judiciously to our diets. These include (to name a few) tart cherry juice, fish oil/omega-3s, turmeric/curcumin and caffeine, which you might consider taking in via green tea for additional benefits. What about protein supplementation for lessening post-exercise soreness, you might ask? Well – check out this review for more on the relationship of protein intake and DOMS reduction.
10. Curtail vitamin I usage. In my non-medical opinion, taking ibuprofen regularly as part of your pre-, during or post-training routine may do you more harm than good. I don’t regularly use any over-the-counter (or prescription!) painkillers. In the event of an acute injury, I might consider using an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory) to help reduce acute pain and swelling. But the potentially negative effects of regularly using vitamin I or other NSAIDS – including gastrointestinal problems, masking pain signals that would otherwise alert you to potential overuse injuries in the making, and possibly interfering with muscle repair post-exercise – keep me from using them routinely. For more on this check out “For Athletes, Risks From Ibuprofen Use” and “Ibuprofen Before Exercise?”
This concludes my top-10 list of interventions that I feel may have contributed to the gradual lessening of my DOMS intensity. Know, too, that there are other interventions out there that may work for you or that you may wish to test out to help with DOMS – such as kinesio taping, vibration therapy, and contrast baths, to name a few. The key is really in finding the combination of ingredients that works best for your body and your being – which may or may not include some or all of the components of my DOMS-busting recipe, plus some of your own.
As with all things training-related, what works perfectly (or at least, fairly well) for one person may have a very limited or zero impact on another. But if you’re struggling with debilitating post-exercise pain regularly, I encourage you to not just accept the pain and think you have to live with that level of discomfort regularly in order to see gains. It’s worth looking into some interventions that, at worst, will have no impact (positive or negative), but that at best, may leave you in a little (or a lot) less après-climbing/training pain than you have been enduring.
Up Next Week: Move of the Month 6: Straight-Arming Moves
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!