This year, I was honored to be responsible for running the Massage Tent after the Oakland Marathon and holding a booth at the Oakland Running Festival Expo. Being in the thick of the Oakland Running Festival, I was reminded of what a great city Oakland is and the infectious pride of its residents. Thanks to all Oakland Running Festival organizers, volunteers, massage therapists, runners, and fans for a rememberable event. I thought this article by Dr. Gabe Mirkin would be an appropriate post, for a post-marathon advice blog. With his permission, I am reposting his April 3rd blog on "Deep Muscle Soreness after Prolonged Intense Exercise". ENJOY! Dr. Gabe Mirkin's Fitness and Health E-Zine www.drmirkin.com Deep Muscle Soreness after Prolonged, Intense Exercise
April 3, 2011
You should stop exercising for several days when you feel deep muscle soreness after very long exhaustive exercise such as running a marathon (26 miles), cycling a century (100 miles), going on a very long hike or lifting heavy weights repeatedly for a long time. Prolonged deep muscle soreness after running a long distance very fast is characterized by severe damage to the muscle fibers themselves. The muscle fibers are torn, the cell membranes are ruptured and the internal content of cells leak outside into the surrounding tissue (J Neuro Sci 1983;59:185-203). Of course, you do not need to stop exercising for the mild muscle soreness that you feel after a normal hard workout.
The deep muscle soreness that follows hard running is far less likely to occur in cyclists, swimmers or athletes in other sports because running causes eccentric contractions, while swimming and cycling usually do not. Muscles move your body by pulling on bones when they shorten. However if your sport forces muscles to lengthen when they contract, the severe force on the muscles caused by eccentric contractions (stretching during contraction) tears the fibers and ruptures the membranes. When you run fast, particularly down hills, your thigh muscles try to keep the knee and hip from bending excessively when your heel hits the ground, and they are stretched and torn.
The severe soreness from muscle damage is virtually always reversible, will almost always heal completely without treatment, and is part of the training process. Mild casual exercise does not help you to heal faster, so you might just as well curtail your running for a few days until the soreness lessens. You should not resume intense exercise until the soreness disappears completely.
Highly trained, competitive athletes will recover faster by eating a diet rich in protein and carbohydrates. However, less-conditioned people with muscle soreness will only gain weight if they increase food consumption.
Although many athletes believe that massage, stretching, or cross training help to relieve deep muscle soreness, scientific research has failed to prove that they actually hasten the recovery process.