5 Tips to Treat DOMS and Tendonitis

Muscle and tendon soreness sooner or later will affect virtually everyone, regardless if you are a serious athlete or engage in exercise on an intermittent, recreational basis. The widespread appearance of muscle discomfort is due partly to the activities that produce it and partly to the muscles not being adequately conditioned to handle stressful loads repeatedly placed upon them. Those who think they are "in shape" usually suffer the consequences of pushing through bouts of increasing intensity on a too-much-too-soon basis. They can feel the effects of this as quickly as two hours later or as long as two or three days later. Within hours post-exercise, "weekend warriors" often develop delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), often lasting about two days.

It is also never a surprise to see tendons become inflamed and sore either right along with muscle tissue or noticeably before. Tendonitis is a common musculoskeletal complication of overuse, improper use through faulty technique, or an imbalance of use from having some muscle groupings pulling harder against others.

Assessing the Damage

Beginning tendonitis associated with muscle overuse usually presents itself as localized pain after a few minutes into a training session. Early on in the injury process, discomfort often eases a few hours after training. As the condition worsens, pain, weakness, and loss of range-of-motion in the affected area become more constant to the point of continuous discomfort throughout the day.

After a single, intense bout of vigorous activity in a short period of time, DOMS could occur and still be climbing about 24 to 48 hours after, reaching a peak within 48 to 72 hours. It disappears five to seven days after the activity. Inflammation also increases to reach its peak in a few days after the bout, and this delays healing. But as the body becomes exposed to repeated physical effort, recovery happens sooner and full and even increasing strength return more quickly as adaptation becomes manifest.

Another cause of muscle and tendon soreness occurs when muscle groups are repeatedly used under force in a certain way day after day with no or very little change in routine. This is known as repetitive use injury or cumulative trauma disorder. Think of military boot camp: The young men and women are pushed through grueling body movements every day for eight to nine weeks. Prescribed increases in physical demand are presented and expected to be handled, amounting to intense exposure to physical stress at the expense of everything else. More attention to appropriate recovery in basic training and in competitive sports would go further in the long run than immediate, intense overload of the muscles and tendons.

It is usually only after the athlete begins to notice pain, suffer weakness, and endure limited mobility that he or she realize that steps are needed to get things turned around. Try and prevent the need for rehabilitation by making the musculature as strong as possible along with all the supportive connective tissue. In addition, rest and recovery (even with specific workouts geared to provide this) are always appropriate to allow the body to catch up with the adaptation process. If the need for medicinal and/or physiotherapy intervention becomes a given, then the following suggestions should be heeded. We are now guided by the anagram PRICE where the letters stand for the five activities that should begin as soon as possible after perceived injury: protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (above the heart).

Choose Heat over Cold

Sandy Koufax, the great fastballer for the Dodgers in the 1960s, was famous for holding photo ops with ice packs strapped to his elbow immediately following his games. This probably provided some relief to the tendons in his elbow by delaying the inflammatory response and lessening swelling to some degree, but in the long run heat would have been better on a repetitive basis to enhance the blood supply.
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