How Psychology and Physiology Affect Muscle Soreness
Chances are that the soreness you feel after joining a faster pace group is very real, not imaginary. But this research encourages a closer look at the nuances of how a person’s mental state affects their physical sensations.
Abby Douek, PT, MPT, is the owner of Run Raleigh PT, where she specializes in helping runners recover from injury and run without pain. Douek recommends that beginner runners avoid frequent DOMS by safely increasing mileage through interval training or running every other day. She says she and her team take a multi-faceted approach to pain prevention and treatment, including advanced gait analysis and VO2Max testing, which helps runners pace themselves and avoid the buildup of lactic acid.
But Douek also believes that “the mind is very powerful,” and she sees what the expectation or fear of pain can do to a runner.
“If you go out for a run expecting pain, your body may be tense and will hit the ground with more rigidity,” Douek says in an email with Fleet Feet. “This will also play into the inefficiency of muscles and cause pain.”