This strikes 24 to 72 hours after a punishing session, like a delayed muscular hangover.
Doms is muscle damage and your body’s inflammatory response. “It’s a sign your muscles are adapting to new activity, giving you increased strength,” says Sarah Hardman, lead physiologist at the English Institute for Sport.
Although your muscles need time to rebuild, Doms isn’t an excuse to skive. “Gently exercising the affected muscles offers short-term pain relief,” says Hardman. “If you’re suffering after a 10K, you’ll feel better after a gentle jog.” Research from East Carolina University in the US found a massage 2 hours after your workout also helps. Apply pressure into the core of the affected muscle in a circular action. This ensures an even blood flow for a faster recovery – so you can punish yourself all over again.
This dreaded soreness is an intense stab under your lower ribcage, as if someone had stuck a carving knife into your side.
The stitch occurs when your peritoneal ligaments, which hang from the diaphragm, become stressed as your torso twists during exercise. It disrupts your session and slows your running. This is one stitch you need to unpick.
Do not continue until it goes away. Do this: “Take deep ‘belly’ breaths and avoid chest-only breathing,” says physiotherapist Sammy Margo. This lets your diaphragm and ligaments relax, preventing the spasms that cause the damage. After 2 minutes, alternate your breathing. Exhale only when the leg on the opposite side to the stitch hits the ground. According to sports scientists at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, this reduces stress on the ligaments and relieves pain.
Your guns shake and quake under pressure – like a twig supporting a concrete block.
The achy-breaky shake occurs when nerve cells that control your muscles drop out of service due to fatigue.
Rest, then repeat. “It’s a sign you’ve put your body through something it’s not accustomed to,” say Professor Matt Lee, a physiologist at San Francisco State University. But take heart: “The more regular your exercise, the more your neurons and muscle fibres will adapt, leading to less twitching.” Increase your rest between sets to 3 minutes and repeat your workout an extra day per week. This will train your body to cope with the workouts, so your muscles repair and expand sooner. But don’t go overboard.
This exercise-induced feeling is akin to boozing on a plane experiencing turbulence.
This occurs when you have low blood sugar from dehydration, over-hydration or over-exertion.
Push yourself to this level rarely – for instance, only when you’re training for a triathlon. “It’s a positive sign for my athletes because it shows how hard they’ve worked,” says Hardman. “But you need to be properly hydrated and well-fuelled.” She recommends a high-carb snack such as a muesli bar an hour before you start. Then if you’re feeling lousy, it’s only because you’ve pushed yourself. And, funnily enough, that’s got to feel good.
This feels like you’re being injected with acid.
“This pain is good,” says Hardman. “When you feel that burn, you’re working just below or at your lactate threshold.” Hit it often and you’ll push your threshold, making you run faster and increasing your rate of fat burn.
Light a fire to keep those muscles burning. To work out your lactate threshold, run for 30 minutes at a pace that leaves you exhausted. Wear a heart rate monitor and take an average reading for the last 20 minutes of your run. That should be your target in cardio exercise from now on. “Then build up your lactate tolerance with interval training,” says Hardman. Sprint up a gentle hill at 90 per cent effort for one minute. The interval is your jog back down. Repeat this 6 times and feel lactic acid soaking through your muscles. If your fitness plateaus, or if you’re training for an endurance event, work at 120 to 140 per cent of lactate threshold 3 days a week for 5 weeks. A study at the University of Western Australia found that athletes who did this improved their ability to buffer the chemicals that cause their muscles to produce lactic acid by 25 per cent. But pack a fire extinguisher in your kit bag because this is going to burn.