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Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

If you are a regular exerciser and on the day after a harder workout, you never feel soreness in your muscles, you will not improve your fitness level as much as you could. Take a tip from competitive athletes who train by taking a hard workout, feeling sore on the next day and then take easy workouts until the soreness goes away in a day or two.

The good soreness that makes you stronger is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and is caused by microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. It is not caused by lactic acid buildup. When muscles are damaged, they produce healing prostaglandins that cause muscles to become bigger and stronger than before they were exercised vigorously. Researchers have shown that DOMS heals faster when you do nothing, but if you take off every time your muscles feel sore, you will never become an athlete and you will not reach a high level of fitness. When you exert very slight pressure on your muscles when you have DOMS, you cause muscle fibers to become more fibrous and they will become stronger so they can withstand greater stress during your harder workouts. Never try to put a lot of pressure on your muscles when they feel sore. That will markedly increase your chances of injuring yourself.

It is relatively easy to tell the difference between DOMS and an impending injury. DOMS is usually symmetrical, involving muscles equally on both sides of your body. An injury is more likely to cause pain that is only on one side. DOMS does not feel worse as you exercise at light intensity. An injury worsens with continued use of the injured part. Stop exercising when you have an injury.

When your muscles feel sore from exercising, take the day off or exercise with very light resistance, such as running or cycling very slowly, or lifting extremely light weights. Try stretching gently to help restore flexibility. Deep massage may help you to heal faster and toughen your muscles.


Follow-up on losing belly fat:
A few weeks ago I said that the only way to reduce a fat stomach is to lose weight overall (because there’s no such thing as spot reduction. Many of you wrote saying "I have a fat belly but my arms and legs are already too thin, so I can’t afford to lose any more weight." Skinny arms and legs mean LACK OF MUSCLE, not lack of fat. Cut out refined carbohydrates and start a weight lifting program, to get rid of the dangerous belly fat and build up your skeletal muscles. See my report #N239.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: I’ve seen conflicting news stories on coffee an diabetes. Should a diabetic drink coffee?

A survey reported in JAMA (July 6, 2005) showed that drinking coffee reduces risk for developing type II diabetes, but two recent studies suggest that once you have diabetes, drinking coffee may be unwise. Canadian researchers writing in Diabetes Care (March 2005) showed that caffeine significantly reduced insulin sensitivity. In the July 2005 issue of the same journal, scientists from Duke University Medical Center reported that drinking coffee could upset a diabetic’s ability to metabolize sugar.

Blood sugar levels are supposed to rise after you eat. To keep your blood sugar levels from rising too high, your pancreas releases insulin. The researchers found that taking caffeine causes blood sugar and insulin levels to rise even higher after meals. If your blood sugar rises too high, sugar sticks to cells. Once sugar is stuck on a cell membrane, it cannot be released and is converted to a poison called sorbitol which destroys that cell. High levels of insulin constrict arteries to cause heart attacks and act directly on the brain to make you hungry, on your liver to make more fat, and on the fat cells in your belly to pick up that fat. If these studies are confirmed, diabetics will be advised to restrict coffee as well as those foods that cause the highest rise in blood sugar after meals.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Do my lifestyle choices really have much impact on cancer prevention?

One in three of the seven million cancer death worldwide is caused by nine potentially modifiable risk factors, according to a study from Harvard Medical School (Lancet, November 19, 2005.) Being overweight causes your full fat cells to release chemicals that cause inflammation that can lead to cancer. Lack of fruit and vegetables deprives you of antioxidants that prevent cancer. Lack of exercise increases inflammation that causes cancer by the same mechanism as full fat cells . Smoking exposes you to nicotine that causes blood vessels to grow and nourish cancer cells. Excess alcohol dehydrates cells, which can cause cancer. Unprotected sex exposes you to cancer-causing viruses. Urban air pollution and indoor smoke from solid fuels expose you to carcinogens in the air, and contaminated injections expose you to viruses and other agents that cause cancer. You can improve your odds against cancer by avoiding overweight, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, exercising, avoiding smoking and alcohol, practicing safe sex, and avoiding indoor and outdoor air pollution whenever possible. Avoid injections unless they are necessary for health.


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Recipe of the Week:

Portobello Mushroom Casserole

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

June 26th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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