Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)


New year, new you – yup, lots of us are on that bandwagon now. Some of you may have started exercising after a holiday hiatus or a long absence, some of you might be trying new routines and now you are wondering what is with this muscle soreness?

DOMS usually occurs anywhere from 24-48 hours after exercising and it causes stiffness and aching in the muscles with reduced flexibility and function. DOMS is usually due to eccentric exercises such as squats and plyometrics but it can occur with any type of exercise if you haven’t exercised that muscle in a while. A strain is different and will require medical attention. A good way to discern if it is DOMS or an injury is DOMS usually subsides within 2-3 days at the worst, a week.

DOMS occurs because the muscles that have been over exerted get microtears. DOMS is actually a normal response to overload and is part of adaptation process in which the muscles recover and then increase in size (hypertrophy).

How to Alleviate DOMS?

1.       Gentle aerobic exercise like walking or cycling (just spin the legs) will help to improve blood flow and flush out calcium that builds up in the muscles because of the microtears

2.       Massage – gentle massage to increase blood flow and eliminate waste products.

3.       Epsom Salt soaks – the magnesium in Epson Salts is readily absorbed through the skin and magnesium plays a part in muscle relaxation.

4.       Sleep – the cure to everything. Our bodies recover when we sleep so adequate sleep is essential.

How to avoid DOMS?

1.       Progress slowly – if you haven’t exercised in more than two weeks, go back slowly. I always say it is better to have a “mickey mouse” workout and to progress from there rather than doing too much, too soon and setting yourself back for a week or more.

2.       Studies have shown that some supplements (L glutamine, creatine and fish oil, to name a few) may help to lessen DOMS.

3.       Foam rolling

Take it easy out there folks!

Andre Gordon