In the past day or so I’ve been experiencing heavy aching legs and fatigue.
This is typically known as DOMS:
It is typically felt after starting a new activity either for the first time or after a very long break.
As a former squash player and coach I am quite familiar with this phenomenon. Every squash player knows what “squash-butt” feels like…
But the effect of DOMS comes up with any physical activity/exercise.
Why Do I Have Heavy Aching Legs And Fatigue?
I use my glutes and hamstrings to support an extended spine.
That is opposed to having less mobility in the hips where your spine has to roll forward to facilitate leaning over. In this way, increased pressure is felt by the spine and, eventually, major damage.
As I said, though, I’ve been hinging at the hip and using my glutes and hamstrings for support.
So now I am feeling heavy aching legs and fatigue – DOMS.
After all, it’s a novel activity for my body.
How To Alleviate Heavy Aching Legs And Fatigue
There are two things you can do to help DOMS resolve itself:
- Stretch the affected muscle groups immediately after finishing the activity; and
- Use the same muscle group – engage in the same activity – the next day.
There is no set time for this, however, about 60 seconds for each stretch is a good start. These would be static stretches – where you reach your end range-of-motion for the stretched muscle and passively hold it there without moving too much.
The only “movement” is relaxing into the stretch on a breath out.
It’s important to follow this up the next morning, stretching the same muscle groups in a more dynamic fashion – moving your arm/leg/whatever in and out of the stretch.
(Think arm-swings, for example, as opposed to stretching and holding your arm in the end range-of-motion.)
For more detailed directions on specific stretches and best approaches, I recommend checking out Kit and Olivia at StretchTherapy.net.
Engaging in the Same Activity
This is not the most popular advice!
Ideally, where possible, after your dynamic stretching the following morning, you want to jump straight back into the same activity that you did the previous day which caused the DOMS.
It will be easier to do after the first day.
After the second day is probably the most difficult.
That’s because DOMS usually hits its peak around the 48-hour mark after you finish the initial activity.
If you can “push through” this period then you won’t experience DOMS again – unless you stop completely for a month or more. If you don’t “push through” then you will experience (a reduced degree of) DOMS once again.
This is a perfectly fine approach as your body slowly adapts.
But if you are playing a sport where you want to get in regular training straight away then engaging in the same activity the next day is vital.
Important Note: If you feel like you have injured a certain muscle or muscle groups, don’t follow what I have just outlined above. Knowing the difference only comes with experience and listening to your body.
If unsure, seek out professional help where someone can inspect and give some guidance for you personally.