Friday, August 12, 2011

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

The most common thing I hear after someone experiences kettlebells for the first time is how sore they feel a day or two after. Of course, they ask me, “Dr. Fung, why am I so sore?” The answer: DOMS.  Many kettlebell exercises utilize eccentric muscle contractions which are the root cause of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).

An eccentric muscle contraction is executed when a muscle is firing but is lengthening while tension is maintained. An example is lowering a coffee mug from your lips to the table during which the biceps and brachialis muscles elongate and control the descent of the mug. Eccentric muscle contractions are the essential ingredient for developing muscle strength. The same physics are utilized during ballistic kettlebell exercises such as the swing. Each time the kettlebell begins its travel back to the bottom of the arc of swing, your body must resist this force and control the lowering of the bell with a global eccentric muscle contraction. Bingo! Muscle soreness.

This is actually great news because not only do eccentric muscle contractions develop strong muscle fibers, the ballistic swing also requires co-contractions from complimentary muscle groups throughout your body. Co-contractions are highly efficient muscle contractions which lead to better results from exercise and thus better outcomes for your fitness, health, & wellness.

The effects of DOMS tend to peak at 48hrs and can protect your body from repeating the experience up to 6 weeks after the initial onset.

Coming up: Breaking Down The Functional Wall Squat. In my next post, I’ll expand on one of the most useful exercises which has indications for spine health, hip mechanics, injury prevention, and more.

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