The previous couple of entries introduced the topic of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), covering the causes of and common misconceptions about this well-known phenomenon, as well as constructive ways to use DOMS to help understand your recovery status. The next few entries will discuss various ways to lessen the severity of DOMS, starting with why you’d want to do this at all. In the end, whatever interventions you choose to use should be the ones that are most effective for you as an individual, so long as they don’t have the potential to cause your body harm, regardless of whether or not there’s a study backing it up. In other works, if it works for you, do it!
Why should I want to prevent or lessen DOMS at all?
Good question. From my perspective, after spending the majority of my life as a climber (so far) experiencing relatively severe DOMS pretty regularly, I’d say it’s because being in almost constant pain after climbing or working out pretty much sucks. This makes it hard to be positive or psyched or to have good energy to put into productive rest-day activities (like writing climbing-training articles, for example!). Lessening the intensity of my DOMS has always been a major goal of mine, but it wasn’t until very recently – like this past year! – that I can say that I really have found a way to still train hard and climb hard (for me, of course, all things being relative!), but to not have severe post-exercise pain be the result after practically every high-intensity effort. Having found a combination of methods that seem to have helped alleviate my previously much-more-severe DOMS has helped improve the quality of my climbing, training and rest days – or in other words, pretty much my whole life.
This is not to say that I don’t still get sore after a hard workout, but rather, that I don’t feel so actively in pain that I can barely function or that it affects my mood. The intensity of the pain has decreased a lot. As I discuss various interventions, I’ll note the ones that seem to have helped me – and I say seem to, because I’m honestly not sure if there’s any one intervention that should get all the credit, or if it’s the combination of interventions working together. Nor can I endorse any of these methods – those I use or those I don’t – for anyone else to use. Maybe one or more of these will work for you, or maybe something else entirely. Try at your own risk, understanding that as of right now, there is no resounding scientific proof or endorsement backing any particular method of DOMS attenuation or prevention as working wonders for everyone who tries it – save resting until it dissipates.
How can I prevent DOMS?
The only way you could virtually make sure that you never, ever experience DOMS again in your life would be to avoid trying any unfamiliar, difficult, or challenging physical activity ever again in your life. This course of action is not recommended, of course – and especially not if you’re interested in improving at climbing or pushing your current level of fitness up.
Up Next Week: Climbing & Training Helpful Hints and Suggestions: DOMS Prevention and Attenuation Tactics (IYC Series), Part 2
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!