You may be familiar with the intense muscle aching and soreness that comes from performing an unfamiliar sporting movement or activity. Officially known as ‘DOMS’ or delayed onset muscle soreness, pain is caused by inflammation in the muscle and connective tissue caused by micro damage sustained during the exercise. Many people hitting the slopes after a few months off skis, will feel pain and stiffness in the muscles of the legs, back or indeed all over! Typically, the pain is not felt straight away, but will kick in after few hours. Normally, the inflammation will settle within 24-48 hours, but can last up to a few days, not great if you want to make the most of your holiday in the mountains! Here are our key tips to help reduce the risk of ‘DOMS’.
Preparation is key!
The main cause of ‘DOMS’ is eccentric muscle loading. Eccentric contractions cause a muscle to stretch or lengthen against resistance, typically in movements where muscles have to work against gravity. In order to train these type of contractions, a good strength training program for the lower limbs, consisting of eccentric type exercises such as squats will help to better prepare your muscles for the eccentric loading encountered when skiing. As well as improving leg strength, it is also important to strengthen the abdominal muscles and the muscles of the lower back to help prepare your body for the extra demands placed upon it during your ski holiday.
Warming up before you hit the slopes is essential to reducing the risk of injury as well as ‘DOMS’. A simple warm up of 5-10 minutes can be performed on or off the slopes, and it will also help to boost circulation on those icy cold days! Some examples of warm up exercises include: jogging or marching on the spot, squats, star jumps, shoulder rolls and circling the hips to mobilise the pelvis and lower back. When it comes to warm up exercises- be creative! The aim is to loosen stiff joints and improve blood flow to the muscles, so you can get the whole family involved and make it fun!
The best way to reduce DOMS is to perform some gentle exercise to improve blood flow to the muscles, which will help to ease the inflammatory process. Cycling, swimming, Pilates and yoga are all great ways to help muscles recover.
Reductions in pain and swelling caused by DOMS have been proven to be reduced with gentle massage. Deep tissue massage and intense stretching should be avoided for the first 24h following the onset of DOMS or other muscle injury.