Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

If you have ever had that distinctive muscle pain the day after a particularly hard workout, you may have been experiencing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is exercise related muscle pain, stiffness and tenderness. 

What Is DOMS?

DOMS develops following exercise which is excessive or your body is unaccustomed to, i.e. when a new training activity, intensity or volume is introduced. 

The soreness is usually felt 24 to 72 hours after the exercise.

It often occurs if your exercise has an eccentric component to it. Eccentric exercises involve the muscles contracting whilst lengthening, such as with downhill running or lowering weights.

What Causes DOMS pain?

When your muscles are overworked or stressed, small microscopic tears can occur in the fibres.

These micro-tears combined with the accompanying inflammation cause the pain, stiffness and fatigue that you know as DOMS.

How To Manage DOMS

You can reduce your chance of DOMS by warming up and stretching prior to your exercise or workout, and by slowly building up the intensity or volume of your exercise over time rather than pushing too hard too soon.

Once you get more accustomed to exercise, you’ll find that DOMS occurs less severely and less often, even after a particularly hard workout.

In the meantime, there are a number of ways to help manage your DOMS and hopefully take the edge off your pain:

Get Moving

The first 24-72 hours after your workout is when those muscles will be hurting the most. 

Don’t be afraid to use them though – gentle exercise and movement through those sore muscles will help to flush them out.

Foam Roll/Massage

A total of 20 minutes of foam rolling immediately after exercise and every 24 hours afterwards reduces the likelihood of sore muscles and stiffness. 

This form of massage stretches out your muscles and encourages blood flow to the sore areas.

Treat yourself to some warmth

Heat can help with sore muscles. 

Lie in a warm bath for 20 minutes and let your muscles relax or use a warm heat pack over the sore areas. 

Get A Good Sleep

Try and get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep following your workout. 

This lets your body have time to rest and repair itself and leave you feeling more refreshed the next day.

Eat To Support Your Body

Make sure to drink lots of water across the day as dehydration can affect plasma levels in your blood and prevent energy from reaching your muscles – this contributes to muscle soreness. 

Foods rich in antioxidants, good fats and proteins also help to reduce DOMS.