Does Muscle Pain Go Away?
Many people when they begin taking their workouts seriously for the first time in their life will begin to notice the infamous ‘DOMS’. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. These DOMS are present because of the actual process of building muscle. When you put your muscles under a reasonable amount of tension or pressure, you cause microtearing/microabrasions in the individual muscle fibres. Your body then breaks down proteins into amino acids and uses these amino acids as building blocks to repair your muscles. When your muscles are repaired they generally come back bigger or more tightly compacted with fibres in order to actually prevent you enduring the same amount of damage in the future. This is when you step up the reps, weight or intensity of your workouts in order to repeat this entire process. This process is known as “progressive overload”.
Depending on your style of training, your muscles will repair themselves in different ways. This is because your style of training will affect exactly how and where you damage your muscles. People who wish to gain mass/size generally train ‘hypertrophy’, this is a form of training that tends to involve more time under tension and emphasis on correct form in order to efficiently damage the muscle in such a way that it grows back larger. The alternative style of training is strength training, where less time is spent under tension and more time is devoted to lifting weights that are in the upper regions of your maximum limit. The goal here is to continuously be lifting heavier weights every other to every other week depending on your individual circumstances.
During the repair process, it’s normal to feel slight to moderate tenderness in your muscles, this is effectively your bodies way of telling you the muscles have been damaged slightly, which is good, because that’s the whole aim of working out. Supplements like amino acids will help.
But does the pain ever go away? Yes and no. The pain never fully subsists to the point of not being noticeable, and if it comes close enough that you can’t tell your muscles will still be fatigued and should still be given time to rest. But people that are newer to working out experience much more pain in their muscles with much less muscle growth. As your body adjusts to your penchant for weightlifting/bodybuilding you will find that DOMS are getting significantly less noticeable, whilst increases in muscle mass are getting more noticeable.
DOMS can be further minimized through diet, if you don’t have an adequate amount of protein in your diet, your body can’t make the amino acids necessary to actually repair your muscle, which means you’re going to be in pain for longer and take longer to recover as you drip feed yourself protein through an incomplete diet over a period of a few days.
It’s important to remember, however, that damage doesn’t always correlate with pain and vice versa. Your muscles may be damaged without you knowing. Alternatively you might be experiencing muscle pain for entirely different reasons.
Certain aspects of an exercise, such as the lengthening phase (vs the contracting phase) of your muscle can actually cause more pain without necessarily causing more gains.
DOMS are not entirely avoidable, but as your training progresses and you become more adjusted to a fit lifestyle, you’ll notice them bugging you less and less. Whilst you should always remember to maintain a diet rich in protein and ensure that you get plenty of sleep, it is also important to never forget that the way in which you train can have just as much to do with how you’re feeling the morning after as your diet or even your rest.