Do you worry about your workouts making you inflexible?
Here is a recent conversation with one of my Bad Girl Ballerinas regarding delayed onset muscle soreness (a.k.a. DOMS):
"With your super-efficient training method, do you ever experience muscle soreness (and the resulting loss of range of motion) on your "rest days"? Also, how often do you stretch, and does that affect DOMS?"
Let's break this down a bit. Because even if you've never heard of it before, you've experienced DOMS and its perceived loss of flexibility and power at some point (more likely quite often!) in your dance career. So, let's take a look at what it is, if it's good or bad, and what to do about it.
What Is DOMS?
Without geeking out on you and getting overly scientific, DOMS is the sore, tight, heavy feeling you get in your body following an intense workout or training session (basically, anything that challenges your body more than what it is normally capable of or used to). The effects usually last anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after the stimulus occurs.
Science can't quite explain exactly what causes DOMS, but a general consensus seems to blame micro-tears in the muscle tissue and the resulting inflammation and metabolic/chemical "wastes" left over following intense muscle work.
To answer the question above...yes, I totally experience DOMS with my Bulletproof Ballerina workouts. Personally, my DOMS usually peaks about 48 hours after I workout, meaning I generally feel less flexible, weak, and uncoordinated two days after I do a workout that is supposed to get me to my next level. You might be thinking:
How does that make sense? And isn't that frustrating AF?
Yes. But here's why it is necessary.
Is It Good or Bad?
Neither. DOMS is just a necessary part of getting to your next level. But, DOMS itself shouldn't be your goal; and it also shouldn't be something you try to avoid. It is just something you should expect and know how to handle when you are pushing to your next level.
Because science is still unclear about all the details involved in DOMS and because genetics seem to play a role in how individuals experience it (some intensely...some barely feel anything at all), DOMS shouldn't be your benchmark for a good workout. There have been times when I've destroyed myself in the gym and barely felt any DOMS in the following days; and times when I've felt I barely worked out but was destroyed by DOMS afterwards. In other words, the severity of your DOMS isn't a direct indicator of the effectiveness of your workout. There seem to be lots of factors (nutrition, sleep, recovery, etc.) that play a role in how you experience DOMS, other than the workout itself.
So, if you don't experience DOMS, that doesn't necessarily mean you aren't working hard enough. But, you should also know to expect it and how to deal with it should you experience it.
What To Do About It?
FIRST OF ALL, DON'T PANIC
REST & RECOVERY TIME
I hope this helps answer some of your questions about that sucky stiff/sore/heavy feeling you get following intense workouts. Hopefully it also gives you a game plan to deal with those days effectively. Just remember, that loss of flexibility and power you feel is only temporary. Be confident it will give way to an upgraded version of you.
Short-Term Pain = Long-Term Gain
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