DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is the bane of exercisers the world over. Hit a workout hard and it’s likely you’ll be hobbling around for a few days afterward, no matter how ‘fit’ you are. The most frustrating thing is that sports scientists’ have really struggled to come up with anything to improve the pain and discomfort that is characteristic of delayed onset muscle soreness. Post-exercise hot baths, ice baths, massages, protein, BCAA’s, carbs, so far nothing has been able to make a real difference. So, the question is does supplementing with omega-3 reduce DOMS pain?
Research has come to light that a good Omega-3 supplement may offer the most promise for sore muscles. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine has found that Omega-3 supplementation reduced perceived pain and other external symptoms of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness after eccentric exercise in knee extensor muscles. (You actually only get DOMS after eccentric exercise, or working the muscles as they are lengthening).
The study was randomized double-blind and followed 27 men who had not participated in a training program for 60 days before the study started. The subjects in the study were assigned to one of 3 groups, 1.8 grams per day of Omega-3 per day, placebo, or control.
The team measured the range of motion of the knee, the perceived pain, and the thigh circumference of the leg, before, immediately after, and at 24h and 48h post-workout. There were no differences before or immediately after exercise, between any of the groups, but there was significantly less perceived pain and a significantly greater range of motion at 48 hours post-exercise in the Omega-3 supplemented group. Thigh circumference was also significantly less with Omega-3 supplementation at 24 and 48 hours post-exercise.
So reducing DOMS is another great reason to make sure your diet is as high in Omega-3 as possible. If daily servings of Omega-3 rich food are difficult for you to get, supplement with the highest quality triglyceride Omega-3 fatty acids you can afford.
Tartibian, Bakhtiar et al. “The effects of ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids on perceived pain and external symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness in untrained men.” Clinical journal of sport medicine : official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine vol. 19,2 (2009): 115-9. doi:10.1097/JSM.0b013e31819b51b3