Wednesday, 9 December 2015

DOMS and Recovery - Top tips

DOMS = Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

We all get it from time to time.  When we start a new exercise regime, over do it or ask new demands from our muscles, pain and stiffness can set in.  This can be after a few hours after exercise, the next morning or up to two days later.  DOMs can last from 24 - 72 hours.  In skiers, it most commonly occurs in our quadriceps muscles and our calf muscles.  There are not many sports where we keep going for up to seven hours a day and it is very difficult to prepare our muscles for this.  
Overuse can cause inflammation and small tears in our muscle fibres and connective tissue.  So, what can you do to reduce DOMs?  Follow our top 12 tips below to reduce achy legs and limit fatigue.

1 - Prepare 

Get fit for your skiing holiday.  Ideally, start training up to six weeks before you hit the slopes.  I will talk more about ski fit training in a future blog, but as a guide you should work on you leg strength and endurance, cardiovasuclar stamina, core and upper body strength, balance and flexibility.

Gradually ease yourself into skiing and take regular rest breaks.  Ski with people of a similar standard to yourself and don't try and keep up with more advance skiers as this can end in disaster!

2 -  Hydrate

At altitude, the air is very dry.  This is often most noticeable first thing in the morning, especially if our rooms are very warm.  We lose a lot of moisture through breathing and through exercise.  Even when its very cold, you are still likely to be sweating on the slopes. 

Good levels of hydration are essential to reduce fatigue and to help our muscles repair.  When dehydrated, DOMS are likely to be greater.  Everyone requires different amounts of water but by monitoring the colour of your urine, you will be able to tell if you have drunk enough.  Apart from first thing in the morning, your wee should be clear - light straw coloured.  If it remains dark yellow during the day, you need to increase your fluid intake. 

3 - Eat a balance of protein and carbohydrates

Ensure that you are having enough protein and carbohydrates at meal times. Protein is what your muscles use to replenish, repair and recover.  Carbohydrates help provide energy and transport proteins to your muscles.  Foods high in protein include: eggs, cheese, nuts, yoghurt, meat and lentils.

4 - Eat at the right time

Having something to eat around half an hour after you have come off the slopes can aid recovery, as the timing can be key to replenishing your muscles.  Think about incorporating a mix of protein and carbohydrates as a snack or for afternoon tea.  Regular snacks on the slopes also help, so think about keeping a handful of dried fruit and nuts in your pocket.

5 - Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.

Although more research is needed to support this, there are many health professionals who strongly recommend certain foods with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to aid recovery.

Examples are:

               Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which is important for growth and repair of tissues.  It boosts the production of collagen and therefore can help with wound healing.  Sources include citrus fruit, leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes and peppers. 
               Vitamin D not only aids the absorption of calcium to help build strong muscles and bones, but it also can help decrease inflammation and regulate the immune system.  We gain a large proportion of our Vitamin D through sunlight, but other sources include oily fish, liver oils, fortified milk products, fortified cereals, meat and eggs
               Vitamin E has antioxidant properties and also increases blood circulation and can help rid the body of the build up of waste products associated with exercise. Foods containing vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, fortified cereals, avocados and and olives.
               B vitamins have been shown to influence would healing and collagen synthesis.   Vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid are said to help reduce inflammation.  B6 is found in bananas, beans, sunflower seeds and chicken breasts.  B12 is found in oysters, liver, fish, beef, lamb, cheese and eggs.   
               Omega 3's which are found in cod and salmon are said to have anti-inflammatory properties.
               Certain herbs and spices may help reduce inflammation such as tumeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic and cloves

8 - Keep Recovery Active

Always aim to keep moving after your workout. Walk around, do bodyweight squats, arm circles, stretch to the ceiling or get out for a walk. Active recovery is great - as much as you want to collapse on the sofa, it will not help and you'll end up feeling a lot stiffer.

9 - Have a massage

Call Bonne Santé on 0033 (0)4 79 06 07 27 to make an appointment.  You can come to our clinic in the centre of town or we can come to your chalet.

10 - Elevate your legs

Lie on your back with your legs up against the wall for a few minutes after you've had a good stretch.  This may sound silly but it is a popular technique with cyclists. Elevating your legs helps drain waste products and improve circulation. 

11 - Pool Session

If you have a chance to get in the pool after a hard day on the slopes, this is great for the recovery.  The pressure of the water has a pumping effect on the tissues, thus helping to remove lactic acid and waste products.  You don't need to do a hard swim.  Stretching, walking, pedalling and jogging in the water are all great ways of facilitating recovery.  Make sure you drink plenty of water to rehydrate afterwards.

12 - Sleep

Sleep is essential for repair and recovery.  However, good quality sleep can be challenging when at altitude.  See my previous blog on 'Why can't I sleep at altitude' for more information on sleep


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        Prolonged vitamin C supplementation and recovery from demanding exercise.     2001 Dec;11(4):466-81. Thompson D1Williams CMcGregor SJNicholas CWMcArdle FJackson MJPowell JR.

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