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Dealing with DOMS: Strategies of Elite CrossFit Athletes

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

There’s no superior sensation than the one that you get directly following you completely conquer a workout. Whether it’s jogging or weightlifting, dancing, or cycling, that surge of endorphins can make anyone feel like a complete boss. Not as thrilling? Next-day tenderness.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS) is an outcome of the damage you’re imposing on your muscles on a cellular level. When you exercise, your muscles endure minor micro tears which eventually aid in their growth and fortification. Don’t fret, it’s completely ordinary.

This can be influenced by numerous diverse elements, such as the heaviness of weights you’re lifting, the duration of your exercise, or even if you’re targeting the same muscle group on multiple consecutive days. As you can envision, CrossFitters are knowledgeable when it comes to DOMS. Combining gymnastics, weight training, Olympic weight training, and metabolic conditioning, the workout is quite demanding.

How do you return to your designated exercise space day after day (or even proceed to the CrossFit Games) without allowing DOMS to disrupt your workout rhythm? We conversed with a few of the leading ladies at the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Athlete Summit to find out.

1. Prioritize Sleep

“As soon as I contemplate recovery, I automatically contemplate my sleep,” says Tia-Clair Toomey, the current “Fittest Woman on Earth,” also known as the most recent victor of the CrossFit Games. “If I can acknowledge that I’ve had a splendid sleep for the past few nights and I’m still experiencing considerable soreness, then I can assess other factors.” On average, the Australian-born athlete aims for seven to eight hours of slumber each night for optimal performance. When she falls short of that amount? She claims she almost always undergoes an escalation in DOMS.

2. Maintain a Positive Mindset

It has been thoroughly examined that attitude can directly influence how your body copes with physical activity. In one University of Illiniois at Chicago study of 193 healthy adults, individuals who reported discontentment or symptoms of stress and depression took longer to recover from a minor oral injury compared to those who didn’t.

Lindy Barber, a former member of the CrossFit Mayhem Freedom team, can certainly validate this: “Given my consistent injuries, I was incessantly in a state of stress, irritability, and anger. Consequently, I noticed that I was frequently sore,” she admits. “When I took the time to unwind, recline on my couch, maybe indulge in a donut, just relax, breathe, and watch Netflix, I felt better both mentally and physically. Yes, it’s challenging to take a break sometimes. But when I’m in a better mood, I recuperate and perform better.” Of course, that’s easier said than done.

3. Evaluate Your Diet

“I can discern a significant contrast in how my body feels and revives when my dietary intake primarily consists of whole foods as opposed to consuming processed items,” says Toomey, who asserts that her typical diet is abundant in kale, broccoli, eggplant, apples, and other nourishing fruits and vegetables.

She is correct: Nutritious complete meals can enhance recuperation after exercise and provide your body with the essential nourishment it requires for adequate restoration.

4. Shift… Just a Bit

“At times, it’s optimal for me to relocate despite my discomfort,” declares Maddie Sturts. “If my quadriceps are sore, sometimes something like yoga and stretching, even a jog, that will assist with the movement of lactic acid and aid in my recovery. However, when I’m fatigued, that is when I truly need to take a pause.”

Gentle activity, like the kinds Sturts gravitates towards, can boost blood flow and expedite muscle repair, according to Polish research. Through motion, vital nutrients are transported to the muscles, which can accelerate the recuperation process.

5. Be Mindful If You’re Imbibing

“A few beverages can genuinely disrupt your training for the upcoming days,” discloses Barber. “So, I make intelligent choices about when I indulge. Special occasions are one aspect, but when it comes to training, I consider my decision to consume alcohol from a different perspective.”

Barber makes a valid point: A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology discovered that increased alcohol intake after resistance training can significantly impede strength recovery. (Here’s how much alcohol you can consume before it begins to interfere with your fitness.) Mocktails, anyone?

6. Utilize the Sauna

Research indicates that infrared heat can diminish chronic pain and decrease blood pressure—thus, it is no surprise that all three of these exceptional athletes occasionally turn to saunas on their recovery days. “When I’m feeling sore, I’ll go for a session in the sauna,” states Toomey. “The heat helps to enhance blood circulation, loosens things up, and I don’t need to engage in physical activity to achieve that.” (Here’s more information on the potential advantages of infrared sauna treatments.)

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