what they are, why they occur and everything you need to know about training when they appear

One of the constants that are repeated over and over again in the fitness sector is, on the one hand, suffering from stiffness and, on the other, the explanation of what or not to do when they are suffering. It has been heard of everything, since the stiffness is eliminated by training more or that the best tonic is to drink water with sugar.

In this article we shed light on it by explaining what are the stiffnesses, why they occur and what to do at the training level to prevent them.

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What are shoelaces and why do they occur?


Shoelaces (DOMS for its acronym in English Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness)Far from being lactate crystals, as the most widespread myth states, they are nothing more than a transitory and local inflammatory process, that is, they take place in the muscle itself. As an inflammatory process can cause swelling, stiffness, decreased contractile capacity of the muscle and especially pain from 12 o’clock to 72 hours generally.

The cause that causes its appearance is exposure to an unusual training stimulus and to which we are not adapted. This exposure causes small injuries at the level not only muscular but also tendon and even ligament. Apart from everything mentioned, a training methodology that is positioned above all others when it comes to causing more muscle damage and therefore stiffness is eccentric training.

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What should I adjust in my training if I already suffer or if I want to prevent the appearance of soreness?


If we ask a physiotherapist or even a doctor, the official recommendations when it comes to combating soreness are to apply ice, rest or even take anti-inflammatories. The latter I do not recommend since the inflammatory response is a necessary process and drugs of this type interrupt it.

The recommendations that I as a coach can give you is that you simply assume that if you are a beginner you are going to have soreness or that if you have been without training for a long time, you are going to have soreness. It is a reality in both cases.

This is obviously not an excuse to carry out a training for which you are not prepared but it is important to understand that soreness is a symptom of maladjustment to training whether you are a beginner or you return to training after a while. The solutions? I’m going to give you two:

  1. Pass the process of suffering from stiffness the first days.
  2. Adjust the total training load with common sense taking into account your current level. From there, once adapted, consider increasing this training load a bit.

What is and what is not a pivot or download week and when is it advisable to do it

By training load we understand the total stimulus that it produces, that is, its volume, intensity or frequency. If you are either a beginner or are going to resume training after a break, a great option is to start a 6 to 8 week training block with a conservative training load that allows quick adaptation or at least does not cause disabling soreness.

This block that we could call an introduction will allow your body to have room to adapt to a realistic stimulus, from which you can consider increasing the total training load. Think that if you exceed your body’s ability to adapt from the beginning, you will not only have stiffness, rather, you will not improve since your body will invest resources in recovering and not so much in adapting and strengthening.

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