Kansas City is gearing up for the Kansas City Marathon in October. Anyone that tells you that endurance training is throttling down in Kansas City is sorely mistaken. Don’t be sore! Check out what you can do to keep your body up to speed while you’re pounding out the miles!
In part one in this 3 part series on recovery, we discussed why muscle recovery after training is crucial to your success as an endurance athlete. Besides the numerous ways recovery prepares your body for the next time you train, proper recovery techniques will reduce or prevent the muscle soreness and stiffness that commonly occur after intense training.
So why do muscles get sore? How come sometimes, after logging serious miles on Saturday, you’re left limping around until Tuesday?
Researches speculate three likely causes of muscle soreness, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), after exercise:
- Muscle tissue trauma. Damage to the muscle fibers that produce force and the surrounding connective tissue may cause muscle soreness and stiffness. When you overload your muscles, either by increasing how often you train or by training with a greater intensity, microscopic tears in the muscle fibers occur. As a result, the muscle is weakened and produces less force for a few days following exercise. (3, 4, 5)
- Inflammation. When muscle fibers become damaged from repeatedly contracting, absorbing impact and generating force, inflammation commonly occurs, which causes swelling, pain and tenderness. (1, 2)
- Free radical damage. Endurance exercise produces a large amount of free radicals. The harder and longer you exercise, the more free radicals are produced. Free radicals can damage muscle cells and are one of the causes of muscle inflammation and soreness. (6, 7)
Unfortunately, no matter what you do, the intense nature of endurance training causes muscle trauma, inflammation and free radical damage every time you train. But with proper pre- and post-race recovery techniques, muscle soreness can be minimized.
The bottom line: Whether the true cause of muscle soreness is one of these factors or a combination of them, it’s wise if your recovery plan addresses all of these possible causes to minimize soreness and promote the fastest recovery possible.
Coming next week:
In part three, learn recovery strategies that can reduce DOMS and get you training again sooner.
Parts of this article were provided by Kevin Klumpyan, Co-founder of Push Endurance (www.pushendurance.com). Push Endurance is a partner of Man Versus Triathlon and Kevin has developed his own drink supplement called Push Endurance.