Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eccentric DOMS

In regards to this post, a friend asked whether the reduction in muscle soreness (DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness) referred to in this post -  BCAA Supplementation - was a sign of decreased adaptation to the workout adaptive demand.

In short - the answer is no.  Muscle soreness in not a sign of adaptive demand per se, it is a result of eccentric load on a muscle.  Two examples illustrate the idea.

Cyclists are very strong, and if introduced to weighted squats, they can often post a large number on day one.  However, their muscles are conditioned to concentric loads only - which is to say, pushing or extending the legs.  If you let a cyclist workout to capacity without an adaptation cycle of squat training first, they will be crippled from DOMS the following day.

Sled pushing is known as being intense, but it's virtually impossible to become "sore" after a sled training session.  Why?  Like cycling, sled driving requires concentric effort only.  Unlike squats, deadlifts, pushups, pullups, etc, there's no point at which the muscle is loaded and getting longer.

In short, muscle soreness represents muscle tears resulting from eccentric loads or volumes which exceed the athlete's conditioning for eccentrics.

Yes, that's right - all those times you thought "this post workout soreness sucks but at least I'm getting stronger" you were right and wrong.  You were getting stronger due to the adaptive demand you placed on your system, but the soreness was a reflection of eccentric loading only - which, thankfully, the body adapts to relatively quickly.

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