Wednesday, 2/22, I hit the gym to do legs again. The right knee stll had a little sting to it and some tenderness, but I had had it with patience. I started with 10 minutes on the stationary bike to get the joints up to temperature and to dull the pain sensors. Then Tony & I started right off on the squat machine:
The machine has pads that rest on your shoulders, and bars that extend to a pivot or fulcrum about shoulder height. The weights are placed on pegs about half way to the fulcrum, so machine provides about 1/2 of the weight for an equivalent squat. So 3 plates/side is equivalent to about a 135 lb squat. We usually do the last set with 5 plates/side, but Tony was holding back so as not to make the old man look bad.
That was the last of any discomfort in the knee; from then on it felt like it was back to 100%. That convinces me that I hadn’t torn the meniscus, but rather, tweeked the ligament. It was January 29th when I injured it playing in the attic, and by 2/22 it was ‘fixed’. I have to think that taking Wobenzyme had a significant impact on this old guy’s ability to heal a torn ligament in that time frame. The most remarkable side effect is that my left shoulder has made incredible improvement; I can hardly feel what was a 9mm loose body that was just killing me before I started the enzyme formulation. Wobenzyme to the rescue? I have to believe it. I don’t know how much more it will improve, but I’m almost pain-free and have nearly full range of motion.
We finished off the workout with thigh extension, calf raises and blew off any hamstring work. Wow, was I sore for the next four days – it had been some weeks since I could work the legs, so delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) came on strong.
I thought it would be good to talk about this strange result of working out to levels that cause DOMS, what it is and what can be done to minimize it. DOMS occurs as a result of microtrauma to the muscles – the very thing that makes muscles grow in response. In general, DOMS is a pretty good indicator of the effectiveness of a workout toward the goal of growing bigger, stronger muscles.
The amount of tearing (and soreness) depends on the activity, the intensity and the time of the activity. Any movement you aren’t used to can lead to DOMS, but eccentric muscle contraction (movements that cause muscle to contract while it lengthens) seem to cause the most soreness. Examples of eccentric muscle contractions include going down stairs, running downhill, lowering weights and the downward motion of squats and push-ups. In addition to small muscle tears, there can be associated swelling in a muscle which may contribute to soreness. This is known as the “pump”, and looks great in a mirror. Eccentric muscle contraction, also known as “negatives”, is ,in fact, the best way to urge your muscle to greater strength and size.
You may also experience muscle stiffness, fatigue and weakness. Be assured, this is a normal response to unusual exertion as the muscles adapt to the new stress. Over time this adaptation leads to greater muscle strength and endurance and the same activity will no longer result in soreness. But again, that’s why we keep changing the movements, so the body can’t adapt, and is forced to keep getting stronger. Delayed onset muscle soreness is generally the worst within the first 2 days following the activity and subsides over the next few days.
There are some measure you can take to mimize the discomfort of DOMS. Here are a few tips:
Do you get the picture here? The best indicator of a successful workout aimed at getting stronger and growing larger in muscle structure is how sore you get. So, as we say in the bodybuilding game, it is part of the package – get over it! Mentally, you have to learn to seek it as a desired response, and a sign of victory over aging, temporarily, of course. There is a tendency in life to maximize pleasure and minimize pain; we only suppress that tendency when the long term gain is more desirable than the avoidance of short term pain. Being physically fit requires just such a tradeoff; an almost perpetual enjoyment of the strangely pleasurable soreness that becomes your close friend.
Good living, Frank