Windsurfing: how often do you feel Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness? | Photo: PWA/Carter

Pain and stiffness felt in muscles between 24 and 72 hours after windsurfing is common and is likely to limit your performance when windsurfing. But why do many sailors experience muscle soreness and stiffness after sailing and some don't?

Henrik Beyer, health promoter and author of "Health & Fitness for Windsurfing," gives us an insight in what research has to say about muscle soreness and what to do about it.

This phenomenon is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and it is not entirely understood. Research has claimed that DOMS is a result of structural damage and an inflammatory reaction in the muscle and is caused by the lengthening (eccentric) contractions of the muscle. Some may experience DOMS after each strenuous workout or sailing session, and some less frequent.

"Being fit for windsurfing will decrease the risk of experiencing the discomfort of DOMS and improve sailing performance. However, DOMS is not harmful in itself and is seldom a cause for injury," explains Beyer.

Severely stressed muscles after sailing may lead to aching pain and tenderness as well as stiffness for up to seven days, particularly if the sailor is unfit. However, if you experience normal levels of DOMS after sailing, it does not necessarily mean that you are unfit since windsurfing can be very physically strenuous, independently of the sailor's level of fitness.

Windsurfers are likely to experience soreness in the broadest muscles of the back and arms, depending on the type of windsurfing and the level of fitness of the sailor.

"In windsurfing, there is not much to do to prevent muscle soreness, except for being physically fit. But, to at least increase the possibility of preventing DOMS, always ensure that you are warmed-up before sailing. Massage or low impact activities may be effective to temporarily ease the discomfort and stiffness of muscle soreness," adds Beyer.

There are some (questionable) research findings that claim that taking 1,000 milligrams of Vitamin C may reduce muscle soreness. Sailors experiencing severe DOMS may take anti-inflammatory medication to combat inflammation.

However, Henrik Beyer underlines that "DOMS is a natural cause and effect of many strenuous physical activities and should not necessarily be avoided as the muscles will get stronger after they are fully recovered."