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What is DOMS?


DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, is pain and/or stiffness that is often felt in the muscles anywhere from 24 – 48 hours after exercise is performed. Between 4 – 12 hours, muscle soreness kicks in while peaking from 24 – 48 hours and then subsiding over the course of the next few days. It is causes by small tears in the muscle tissue during the eccentric phase of an exercise. It is most often felt when beginning a new exercise regime, adding or modifying current exercises, or when the intensity of an exercise is increased.

DOMS is completely normal and is an expected part of any strength training program. The pain is significantly different than from an injury such as a sprain or muscle strain that may happen throughout an exercise. The biggest difference is that actual injuries are characterized by sudden and site specific pain that causes swelling and/or bruising. Delayed onset muscle soreness is not specific to one particular place and goes away fairly quickly.

As muscle tears take a few days to fully repair, there are a few ways that you can help speed up the recovery time. Although not all of the suggestions may work for your particular body, many people have reported success with one or more of them.

  1. Incorporate an active recovery day in the days following. Active recovery is basically light exercise meant to simply get you moving and the blood flowing more freely throughout your body. Examples of active recovery include walking or power walking, swimming, or dynamic stretching.
  2. Indulging in a massage can be helpful to alleviating some symptoms of DOMS by helping push blood flow into and through your muscles.
  3. Try a warm bath filled with Epsom salts to relieve tired, achy muscles. The warm water will relax you allowing your muscles to benefit from complete relaxation.
  4. Taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen can help your muscle soreness by temporarily reducing the pain. It won’t, however, speed up the recovery time in any way.
  5. Gentle stretching throughout the day can help keep your muscles limber and may prevent them from becoming too tight and painful.

Remember, when your muscle soreness has gone away and you are ready for your next major workout, always stretch thoroughly to avoid such as concentrated case of DOMS the next time.



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