Muscle Soreness and What's Normal

When it comes to working out and working out hard, we’ve all, at one point in time or another, felt discomfort after the workout and thought to ourselves “hmm, did I push myself too far and injure myself?”
Let us first caveat this post with the following: at Black Tusk Athletics, we always want to ensure that every movement performed by our athletes is executed safely and properly to eliminate the possibility of injury. This includes modify the weight and movement so it is appropriate for the individual. This is paramount to everything else. This is our standard. So when we discuss the topic of “pain” as a result of exercise, we are basing it on the fact that the movements are not grossly misexecuted.
With the above in mind, we’ve all heard buzzwords and phrases like “DOMS” or “no pain, no gain” but do I really need to feel pain to make gains, or who is Dom?

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Muscle Soreness and When to be Concerned

A very commonly used term in the fitness industry is DOMS.  DOMS is the acronym for Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. Muscle soreness typically peaks around 24-48 hours post workout. Symptoms can include swelling, tenderness, reduced muscle strength. This is not to be confused with sudden acute pain, which may arise during your workout.

DOMS, more often than not, will occur when you are using muscles in a different capacity than you are used to. DOMS is actually the result of micro trauma in the muscles and surrounding connective tissue. This micro trauma (the tearing of your muscle fibers) will causes inflammation as your body is making adaptations to prepare your muscles for this training again, (ie. building muscle).
Some athletes will wear DOMS as a badge of honor, going as far to say “I’m not even that sore, I must not have worked out hard enough”. The purpose of training and exercise is not to cripple ourselves. If, after three days, you try to do the same exercise and you can’t, you’ve likely gone too far. Soreness is not an accurate indicator of muscle adaptation or growth. There are many factors that influence how soreness is presented and DOMS isn’t the best gauge of how effective your workout was.
But on the flip side, we want to be clear that DOMS isn’t a bad thing. Trauma to your muscle fibers is needed so that your body can repair and grow these muscles. When muscle fibers are repaired, they become larger and stronger than before. This is soreness. This is not to be confused with injury.
There may be times when you may overexert yourself during a workout. So when should you be concerned? When it comes to injury, more often than not, the injury will elicit immediate acute pain, typically during your workout. This is not something you should ignore. Injuries on the most part will also last over 3 days, whereas the onset of soreness will usually both appear (the day after a workout) and will resolve itself gradually.
At the end of the day DOMS isn’t something to fear, nor it is something to praise. For the long-term, you likely will experience DOMs every now and then but as you build more muscle, your strength and endurance will increase as well.
At Black Tusk Athletics, we pride ourselves in keeping classes small, so we can work with you to minimize occurrences of injury.

Holiday Coma Reset

After riding the holiday train for the last month, we are now officially into our second week of January. After all the sugar-laded foods, alcohol, copious parties and engagements, the first week of January likely had a bit of a rough landing for most of us. Some of us may still have one foot on the train, not quite ready to leap off and jump back into our regular routine. Hitting the reset button is like getting a fresh start and isn't as daunting as it seems. Make small daily changes and over the course of one week, you’re back to your pre-holiday routine!

Small Change 1: Ridding the kitchen and pantry of the leftover goodies. These are the cookies and chocolates you’ve received as gifts or just snacks that you accumulated over the month of December in preparation for entertaining during the holidays. Many of us will think “well I don’t want to waste it”; having this mindset will always get us into trouble. Remember that it’s just processed food and can be replaced, we don’t need to stockpile it! Get rid of it :)

Small Change 2: Go grocery shopping and shop the perimeter of the market (with the exception of the bakery). The perimeter is where you will find your necessities (your perishables); these are your produce, your meats, your eggs, your dairy (if you consume dairy). Start cooking at home again, know what is going into your meals, which will give way to meal prepping again!

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Small Change 3: Hit the gym. First workout after the holidays is always the toughest, ask anyone. Once you get this monkey off your back, things will start feeling better again! We promise.

PROTIP: Make that first reservation for a class and stick to it. If you make a reservation and no show because you are having a hard time getting your butt off the couch, find a workout buddy so you have an accountability partner. We’re all in this together.

Our mantra with respect to setting goals and making changes has always been that small changes and small goals over time amount to big changes and big goals. So that’s it: three small changes and you will be on your way back to your regular routine.

The Gift of Self

The holidays are nearing full bloom and the spirit of giving is at its strongest. December is a busy month with Christmas parties, get togethers with family and friends, and general holiday cheer. We are so engrossed with generosity of giving not only physical gifts to others, but also our time.

Most of us have experienced the post-holiday blues: that feeling of exhaustion that hits us when the holidays finally wind down and reality sets back in; when the month’s worth of hustle and bustle, treats, eats, and booze comes to an end. We know that we’ve definitely been there. It’s usually around this time that we go from 60 to 0 real quick. After an entire month of giving to others, we feel like we have nothing left to give, not to others, not to ourselves.

We want you all to take a moment to realize during this holiday season that looking after yourself can actually be the best gift you can give to your loved ones. You have permission to care for yourself; to be selfish from time to time, especially during the holidays when stressors and emotions are running high. As we enter into the latter half of December, adopt a mentality of taking care of yourself.

If you’d like a night in alone, say no to that party that you really don’t want to go to. If your routine is going to the gym, make that a priority. If you really just want to spend all of your money on your friends and family, that’s great too, do that! The point is, we should all be doing what we WANT to do, not what we feel we SHOULD do. We shouldn’t have to feel like sacrificing our own happiness (whatever that might be) for others during this time. Take care of your body, take care of your mind and keep the most important person at the forefront of your decision making.

Oh Happy Holidays


December is always a tough month mentally, emotionally, physically. Between the non-stop arrival of gift baskets of goodies at the office, year end deadlines, to holiday parties, christmas concerts and events, out of town relatives visiting or the perpetual cooking, cleaning, it’s very easy for your regular routine to fly out the window. We’ve all been there. As rhetorical as it sounds, carving out some of that time for yourself is a real life saver.

You may not be able to get to the gym as frequently as you regularly would or as often as you’d like, but going in once or twice a week is better than none at all. Try your best to continue working out at your regular time and stick to as normal a diet as possible; avoid the mentality that all is lost in December. Stock your home with healthy options, so that those will be your go-to and then eat the treats you are bound to receive in moderation.

These next few weeks will probably entail copious amounts christmas shopping, baking, decorating, or endless holiday events, be it parties, family gatherings or friends you haven’t seen in awhile cashing in those “we should get together sometime.” As much as the holidays are tough on your body, it’s a mentally stressful time of the year as well. Lower your expectations of yourself. We would all like to fit EVERYTHING in, but we are human, there are only a finite amount of hours in a day and YOU deserve some of those hours. Alleviate some of that added stress by committing to things you WANT to do and don’t see as a chore; if it’s not a HELL YES, it’s a hell no.

The holidays only come once a year and you should enjoy them! In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, take some time for yourself and remember that self care is not selfish!