A breakdown of muscle

A breakdown of muscle

A lot of people neglect this topic when working out.  What I am talking about is DOMS!  To everyone out there reading this who don’t know what DOMS stands for it’s Direct Onset of Muscle Soreness.  It basically means the breakdown of a muscle and the pain experienced after that due to the breakdown.  Before I go on let’s disect the muscle….

Muscles are constructed of bundles of fibers contained in protective sheaths which are called fascias.  These fascias are then bundled together and attach to the tendon, joining to the bone.  However, it doesn’t stop there no no, this muscle can be further disected.  Now if you look closely at a muscle, it is made up of these long strands of fibers which are subdivided in to myofibrils which are then divided again in to myofilaments which are made of sarcomeres.  These sarcomeres are the shortest contracting units in a muscle and again these can be further broken in to the actual proteins which do all the jazz; actin and myosin.  I’m not going to rampage on about these 2 protein units as I’ve got more to bore you regarding the connective tissues!  Remember 4 lines above I talked about protective sheaths?  Well each part of the muscle is surrounded by a connective tissue (sheaths) which helps with keeping everything in order.  The epimysium is a layer which wraps around the entire muscle.  The perimysium is another layer which groups individual muscle fibers in to fascicles and last of all the endomysium is a layer which covers each individual muscle fiber.  So these connective sheaths all taper off at the ends of the muscle to form tendons which attach to bones and voila this gives you movements such as doing your make up or slapping on huge amounts of gel to impress a certain someone!  So after all this babbling on about muscle I sincerely hope that all you readers have a bit of an understand of how a muscle is constructed.

Now where was I …. oh yes DOMS.  DOMS occurs when you have subjected your target muscle through stress whether it be weights, labouring, cardio etc.  Each muscle as a certain threshold and if you work past that then you will develop what we call ‘micro tears’ within the muscle.  These micro tears are what’s associated with the feeling of pain after a work out.  Obviously, muscle groups always come with a nerve supply for free and it’s because of these neurons sending impulses that you feel pain and discomfort.  I know it’s unfortunate but hey that’s our body!  So let’s be creative and draw out a scene…Charles goes to the gym and today he is working on chest and triceps.  He spends a good hour in the gym pumping some iron, making some ‘Ahh, Grr’ noises and flexing in the mirror and then goes home to carry on his day.  Charles wakes up the next day and finds his chest aching from the day before and finds it difficult to cross his arms across his chest without pain.  He wonders why this happens, well Charles maybe you should read my blog and you’ll know why!  Basically muscles are viscoelastic meaning that they can stretch like an elastic band but they show a certain viscosity or resistance to that stretch.  If you pull an elastic band and let it go, well it will return to its original length, and this principle applies to muscles too.  So when you add stress to them via resistance training or whatever you are stretching the muscles in their connective sheaths (remember what we spoke about earlier) and this then puts micro tears within the muscle and the sheaths.  What happens next is small cells called satellite cells with the help of hormones such as IGF-1, GH and testosterone help repair and improve these muscles.  These satellite cells go travelling to the site of destruction and deploy a nucleus in the area which then starts to grow and help repair the muscle.  Great isn’t it, how microscopic all this happens and we just don’t realise!  Just think of it as you want a new and improved building and so you break down the old one and builders go in in the aftermath and start to remove any waste and start rebuilding it, making it larger and better!

The good thing about DOMS is that through continuous exercise, your muscles and neurons become acclimatised to the damage and soon you start to feel less pain!  That is a good thing but keep in mind that even if you wake up the next day and don’t feel that much pain or stiffness in that target muscle group, it doesn’t mean that you head to the gym and work that same group again on the second day.  Just because you don’t feel the pain, does not mean your muscles aren’t breaking down and rebuilding so if you work them the next day, this could hinder performance and possibly cause injury!  So leave that area and work on another one.  This is what people must remember, you work a muscle group, the next day work another one and a word of advice…WORK THEM HARD!  For maximum benefit you must put your muscles through 12 rounds with David Haye everytime you go to the gym.  What I mean by that is you must work hard at the gym to reap the benefits and work the muscles to their maximum potential.  So for example you do a leg session I want you to be waddling like a penguin after it, then you know you’ve had a hell of a session!

Also another aspect to help recover from DOMS is to eat well!  Make sure you consume lots of healthy fats, proteins and your vegetables.  You must also drink plenty of water to get rid of toxins and maintain muscle hydration too.  Make sure after your gym session you stretch off, take 10 minutes to stretch which goes a long way!  I always take time at the end of a session with my clients to help them stretch.  So remember to eat well, stretch, sufficient rest between sets, sufficient rest after your sessions and drink lots of water to help tackle that DOMS!

I know I have rambled on today, but at least all you readers know a little bit about a muscle, why we get pains after a session and how to tackle DOMS the next day.  It is a completely natural remedy for your body to go through and let it take its course.  Soon enough you will get used to this and will be able to train more frequently, but just give it time!

So remember to look after your body, we only have one and be patient.