Wrong! I have tested stretching and not stretching after workouts and found no difference what so ever.
I am not just getting this info from my personal experience or others but a study which you can read about here.
It is a very long winded paper, so to sum up it concludes that the evidence derived from mainly laboratory studies of stretching indicate that muscle stretching does not reduce DOMS in young healthy adults.
So If Stretching Is Not The Answer, What is The Key to preventing DOMS?
Before I answer this, let me just give a little explanation of what DOMS is. “Also known as muscle fever, it is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles several hours to days after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. The soreness is felt most strongly 24 to 72 hours after the exercise” (Wikipedia).
Most people mistakenly, attribute DOMS to an effective workout and that this is the be all end all indicator of a good workout. It’s not. Most people also think that DOMS is due to lactic acid build up. It’s not.
What causes soreness is simply something new. A hard workout or even just a new exercise you have never done before. This leads to a inflammation, which the bodies way of handling an injury. As part of the repair and recovery process of the body, your body produces special cells which prodiuce substances that make certain pain receptors in your body more sensitive.
When you move around, these same pain receptors are stimulated and due to them being more sensitive, you experience soreness.
The Golden Tip To Reducing DOMS
It is simply to start slow. The best way I can explain this is by way of an example using this beginner workout template. Using the bench press as an example which appears on all sessions, we would first determine what weight we are going to use.
Say we are going to work out in the 6-8 rep range, which is a good idea for hypertrophy by the way, we find our weight that we can lift 8 for. Say this is 50kg. Now we perform our 3 sets on 50kg, but instead of doing 8 reps, we would do 4-5 instead which is well short of failure.
If you start out like this and then perform 8 in the next workout, you should notice that DOMS is not as bad as if you just went to failure straight away.
On May 27th, 2012, I played in a 5 a side soccer/football tournament. You are probably wondering why is he telling me this? I had not played soccer for about 2 months and after playing for approximately 6 hours (with breaks of course), I was knackered. The next day however, I was writhing in pain.
Every part of my legs were aching, even my biceps, shoulders and back were in pain. What was even worse was I went on holiday on the 29th and was still in pain, and trust me sitting on that plane was very uncomfortable. I was sore for approximately 5 days, which was making me miserable as I couldn’t fully enjoy my short holiday.
There isn’t really a lesson to be taken from there, because I couldn’t exactly just go easy at football, but the key lesson was when I got back home. I done my workout the next day, and went hard on the squats, and doing 10 reps for 2 sets and then 13 on my death set. If only I had taken my own advice. My legs were again sore for another 4 days.
Now if I was thinking clearly, I would of done just 5-6 reps on that same weight and reintroduce the squat back into my life slowly which I hadn’t performed for about a month due to university exams.
Because of the soreness, I skipped squats the next time I trained. But as a takeaway message:
- Muscle soreness isn’t the be all end all to an effective workout.
- Stretching is not going to reduce DOMS but still do passive stretching after your workout if you’re into flexibility.
- Start off slowly and increase the intensity as you go along
- Consistency is key for muscle gains, so just focus on adding reps or lbs to your lifts