Stiffness and CrossFit

CrossFit is synonymous with constant stiffness, also known, in other countries, as cramps.

By the time you think you are improving and should have no more, you will increase the intensity of your workouts and still have.

In this post we will learn how to live with them in the best way, applying the best remedies and avoiding useless tricks such as sugar water.

What are stiffnesses?

Stiffeners are micro-traumas in the muscle fibers from which inflammatory processes are generated.. Las agujetas is the colloquial term, its formal name is delayed onset muscle soreness (TOMS) or DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) after performing a physical activity to which we are not accustomed.

Why do they occur?

For decades, stiffness was explained as a consequence of lactate crystallization in the muscles.

At present, this theory has been superseded and, although the exact causes are not known with certainty, it always refers to the muscle damage sustained in training

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Exercise trains the muscles and also the nervous system, and that is why the nerve receptors of even non-exercised muscles connected to the same segments of the spinal cord may become sore or more sensitive.

How long does it take for stiffness to appear?

The usual time frame in which stiffness begins to be felt is in the first few months of life. 16-24 hours after training.

The maximum intensity is reached at 48 hours and can last up to almost a week.

doing crossfit with stiffness

Have I trained well if I have no stiffness?

Stiffness is not an indicator of actual damage and is not necessary for progress.

In order for the muscle to grow, it must receive 2 main stimuli: mechanical tension and metabolic stress. Stiffness does not play a role in this formula.

Tips to reduce stiffness

With these recommendations you can reduce their appearance, intensity or duration.

The sooner you are recovered, the sooner you can have a higher intensity training session and, therefore, get closer to meeting your goals.

Good warm-up

Light physical activity prior to training helps prevent stiffness. 

It is necessary to general and specific warm-up to activate the muscles we are going to work with similar movements but with less intensity.

If you are going to perform for example a barbell workout, you should start with 3-4 working approach sets of each exercise.

Myofascial release 

In the same way that warming up helps to reduce stiffness, on the other hand, the stretching after training does not have a direct impact

On the other hand, myofacial massages are helpful. Although the effect is small and not very long-lasting, but these massages offer more benefits that you can learn about here. You can also use a massage gun.

Heat after training

Hot or cold? Ice water baths are becoming fashionable. We see athletes building their own coolers with cold water and dipping into them even with ice cubes. The cold has many benefits, but in this case for stiffness it offers no improvement.

Heat reduces the discomfort of stiffness. Forms that can be applied: sauna, bath, hot cloths or mat.

Light exercise the following days

Once stiffness appears, the best thing to do is to keep active to improve blood flow. At the same time it favors the elimination of pain-associated metabolites and provision of nutrients through the blood supply that will aid in recovery. 

The movement also reduces the sensitivity of the nervous system.

Can I do CrossFit with laces?

Yes, because if you wait until you don't have them you will never train and your progress will be very slow, but you have to adjust the intensity. Stiffness is not only annoying but it reduces range of motion and strength and can increase the chances of injury. 


The best foods that can aid in the recovery process are protein and caffeine. Both can be taken as a supplement.


Protein is essential in muscle regeneration and pain reduction. 

It is recommended to post-workout consumption with a shake for example, as it is a time when the body seems to be more prepared for its assimilation. 

whey protein isolate crossfit


We think of caffeine as an assistant in improving physical performance and fat burning, but it is also an ally in the process of reducing stiffness.

caffeine tablets crossfit

To a lesser extent, critrulline and taurine also have favorable effects. If you are a person who tends to have a lot of stiffness and/or very long and lasting stiffness, try adding these supplements.


Non-essential amino acid which helps to raise nitric oxide levels.

It is recommended to consume citrulline malate. before training to reduce fatigue and stiffness.

Watermelon can be found in foods as a natural source of citrulline.

l citrulline for doms


It is another non-essential amino acid which can normally be synthesized by the body.

It is recommended to consume 2-3 grams daily for several days to aid in muscle recovery and reduce stiffness.

l taurine for doms crossfit

Sugar water for stiffness?

It was believed that with the effort the lactic acid crystallized and produced pain because it could not be easily eliminated by the blood. That is why they recommended sugar water, which helped to dissolve it and consequently soothe the pain.

Muscle biopsy studies have shown that these crystals do not even form after training, as they are not formed after the training. lactate is rapidly transferred to the bloodstream and is eliminated within minutes after physical activity.

This theory has become totally outdated with the that if you want something to drink, the best allies are protein and caffeine..

Do anti-inflammatory drugs help stiffness?

Inflammation is a natural part of the recovery process from injury, is also muscle gain signal.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may reduce stiffness if taken after training, but interfere with the natural process of physical improvements.

This, in addition to the risks associated with habitual consumption, means that consumption is discouraged.

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